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What does alcohol do to brain cells?


We know that alcohol kills brain cells but how many? Are all the effects from dead brain cells?

1709 day(s) ago

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BobToday
Most people will tell you that alcohol kills brain cells. While this is not exactly true, alcohol does harm the brain and impair the way it functions. Scientists have only recently begun to unlock the mysteries of all the interactions and effects of alcohol on the human brain and central nervous system. Most of the long-term effects alcohol has on the brain are associated with alcoholics and repeated binge drinking. Binge drinking is considered to be consuming 4 or more drinks within 2 hours for women and 5 or more drinks for men. Some of the harmful effects are due to the alcohol itself, while others are due to the unhealthy lifestyle that alcoholics and frequent binge drinkers tend to lead. For instance, most alcoholics suffer from poor nutrition because they either eat too little, or they eat unhealthy foods with little nutritional value. 80 percent of alcoholics have a severe thiamine deficiency, which puts them at great risk of developing brain disorders, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

It has recently been discovered that much of the brain damage due to alcohol is because of the retardation of stem cells. It was once thought that an adult brain has a fixed number of nerve cells, and that once they die, they are never replaced. We have come to learn that brain cells die naturally as a matter of course, and they are replaced by new nerve cells generated by stem cells. Excessive drinking impairs the functions of the stem cells, slowing them. Therefore, the naturally dying nerve cells in the brain never get replaced.

Most other detrimental effects on the brain are short-term and recovered once the drinking has stopped. Nerve cells send messages to each other through chemical signals that have to travel through a gap in the cells. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters and they travel to and from the synapse of the cell. Alcohol hinders or completely stops some of the neurotransmitters as they travel from synapse to synapse, so the messages never get relayed. This is what causes the impairment in judgment, thinking, and motor coordination we experience while under the influence of alcohol.


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