The idea that alcohol kills brain cells has been around for quite some time. It’s been repeated so often a lot of people believe it’s fact. Some people believe that even having one too many drinks will lead to brain damage.
Drinking heavily over a long period of time does cause certain forms of mental decline, and drinking during the teenage years can also slow mental growth. However, the link between casually consuming too much alcohol and permanent brain cell loss is shaky.
Below we examine the truth behind this claim and cover the actual long-term effects that alcohol has on the brain.
The Truth Behind Alcohol Killing Brain Cells
Moderate drinking does not actually kill brain cells. In fact, low levels of alcohol consumption can even improve some aspects of your overall health, including: lowered cholesterol levels and improved cognitive performance.
Even heavy long-term alcohol abuse, and binge drinking doesn’t result in permanent brain cell loss. However, the doesn’t mean that consuming alcohol isn’t dangerous. Alcohol abuse can result in many long term mental disorders and health issues.
How Does Alcohol Affect Your Brain?
Even though alcohol consumption doesn’t result in brain cell death it does lead to brain damage in certain instances. High levels of alcohol consumption can lead to neurogenesis, which impacts the formation of new brain cells. This means that your ability to grow new brain cells will be impacted. It also leads to damage of your neuron’s ability to communicate.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to a thiamine deficiency. This deficiency can lead to a serious neurological disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This disorder will actually lead to the loss of neurons. This disorder can also cause a reduction in muscle coordination, memory problems, and even amnesia.
The overall damage to your brain will depend upon the conditions below:
- how often you consume alcohol
- how much alcohol you consume
- the age at which you started drinking alcohol
- how long you have been drinking
- you gender, genetic background, and family history
- your overall health status
When Can Alcohol Consumption Become Dangerous?
Excessive alcohol consumption can be dangerous to your brain and overall health in a variety of ways. Even after a few drinks your memory can become impaired, and can even reach the point of blackout if too much alcohol is consumed.
Since alcohol impairs your memory you could engage in behavior that puts you at risk of other health problems. For instance, drinking and driving puts you and anyone else in the car at extreme risk of injury or death. You’re also more likely to stumble and fall, and have the increased chance of giving yourself a concussion.
If you or a loved one drinks too heavily, or too often, they could be suffering from alcoholism. If you’re worried about the dangers that alcohol poses on your overall health, or the health of a loved one, then give us a call at (855) 900-4785 today.
“Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health” CDC 17 Dec 2015. Web. 28 Jan 2016.
“Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome” NLM, 24 Feb 2014. Web. 28 Jan 2016.
Tapert, Susan. “What Does Alcohol Do To Your Brain?” Psychology Today, 2 Oct 2008. Web. 28 Jan 2016.