How Alcohol Changes Your Brain
June 30, 2009
Many know that studies have suggested that alcohol in moderation may promote heart health, and even ward off diabetes and dementia. But fewer people know that no study has ever proved a causal relationship between moderate drinking and lower risk of death, only that the two often go together.
In other words, it is just as likely that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy.
Dr. Tim Naimi, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that, “The bottom line is there has not been a single study done on moderate alcohol consumption and mortality outcomes that is a ‘gold standard’ kind of study -- the kind of randomized controlled clinical trial that we would be required to have in order to approve a new pharmaceutical agent.”
Alcohol has been tied to breast cancer, can lead to accidents even when consumed in small amounts, and is linked with liver disease, cancers, heart damage and strokes when consumed in larger amounts.
Some of the WEAKEST science we have is epidemiological observations, and that is precisely the type of science that has been used to support that drinking wine in moderation is healthy for you.
Additionally, to examine the effects of alcohol on the brain, researchers examined eight men and seven women who drank alcohol through a straw while lying in an MRI scanner.
Only 6 minutes after consuming an amount of alcohol equivalent to three beers, changes had already taken place in their brain cells, Live Science reports. Their brains began to run on the sugar in alcohol instead of glucose, the normal brain food.
The concentration of substances such as creatine, which protects brain cells, also decreased as the concentration of alcohol increased. Choline, a component of cell membranes, was also reduced. This probably means that alcohol triggers changes in the composition of cell membranes.