Myth Debunked- For us of drinking age, partial to the occasional beverage; sometimes, after a few too many, we experience brain fog, decreased inhibitions, and unsteadiness. But has our night-on-the-tiles killed some healthy brain cells?
Thankfully, no, unless you fell and knocked your head while drunk, or suffer from a particular genetic disorder, while our brain cells may be working sub-optimally, they eventually bounce back. So, what causes this sense of drunkenness? The ingredient in alcoholic drinks which makes them… alcoholic, is ethyl alcohol. This is absorbed through the bloodstream and your liver converts it into acetate, which can be excreted. However, drinking too much, too quickly, overwhelms your liver and residual blood alcohol eventually ends up in your brain. Alcohol affects the neurons dendrites, the connections between brain cells, affecting how signals pass though the brain. However, this damage is usually repaired after a recovery period, and a study looking at the neurons of heavy and non-drinkers found no significant difference in brain-cell numbers. Although drinking a lot doesn’t affect your brain cells, it also has other medical effects, so everything in moderation!!
Jensen, G.B. and Pakkenberg, B., 1993. Do alcoholics drink their neurons away?. The Lancet, 342(8881), pp.1201-1204.