Popular wisdom holds that “every alcohol addict drink you take kills 1,000 brain cells.” Is the true? Does drink alcohol yes, really destroy brain cells? 

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No, alcohol doesn't in reality kill brain cells. Yet it does damage your mind and impair your psychological faculties.

The quick answer: No. Drinking alcohol doesn’t kill brain cells. While study by part investigators suggests that alcohol exposure can result in neuronal cell death, plenty of experts say that alcohol doesn’t truly kill brain cells. 

In fact, in one study, researchers in reality counted the number of neurons in the brains of drinkers and also non-drinkers during postmortems. They uncovered that human being from either group averaged around the exact same numbers that neurons regardless of alcohol use. 

But that doesn’t typical that alcohol is harmless come your small gray cells.

“Just because alcohol doesn’t in reality kill brain cells, the doesn’t median it doesn’t influence them,” warned Benjamin Springgate, MD, MPH, associate professor the clinical medicine, Louisiana State University institutions of Medicine and Public Health, new Orleans, LA. “Studies have presented that drinking alcohol can damage the end of mind cells, which impact how they communicate with one another and how your brain works. Long term heavy drinking have the right to not only shrink the size of brain cells and influence coordination, sleep, and memory, it can an outcome in enough damage to an outcome in coma and also even death.” 

This lot is true—alcohol no kill brain cells, yet it injures and also impairs your mind in a variety of ways: 

Dulls dendrites

Chronic alcohol use can damage dendrites, the branch-like ends of mind cells. Used for neurotransmission, dendrites room the receiving end of the neuron. So the deterioration of dendrites deserve to impair brain signaling, resulting in defects in cognitive duty (eg, memory, trouble solving, and also attentional focus). 

On the glowing side, researchers have recently presented that specific therapies (such as donepezil, an Alzheimer drug) deserve to reverse alcohol-related dendritic damage. 

Shrinks your brain

Heavy alcohol use is connected with smaller mind volume, arguing that drinking literally shrinks her brain. Also at moderate levels of alcohol consumption, the brain showed shrinkage—particularly the hippocampus, the mind region associated primarily v memory. 


Researchers found that hippocampal atrophy emerged in a dose-dependent manner—the an ext you drink, the more mind you shrink. Because that instance, moderate drinkers (around 2 drinks per day) had three times the risk of hippocampal shrinkage as nondrinkers. Human being who drank the equivalent of four drinks a job had nearly six times the brain shrinkage as nondrinkers. 

In addition, greater alcohol intake was connected with a greater decline in vocabulary fluency (ie, speak as plenty of words as feasible starting through the exact same letter in 1 minute), i beg your pardon is a measure of executive function. However, higher alcohol input did not show declines in native recall or in semantic fluency (ie, speak as many words as possible in the same group in 1 minute).


Stunts brain cell growth

Although alcohol doesn’t kill brain cells, it might prevent new mind cells from growing. Too much alcohol have the right to meddle v neurogenesis, the procedure of forming brand-new neurons. 

This can occur in multifarious ways, follow to researchers. Alcohol is a “pharmacologically promiscuous drug” because it acts on many targets, consisting of several the are affiliated in neurogenesis, researcher explain. 

The an excellent news, according to these authors, is that civilization who quit drinking alcohol deserve to recover the capacity to grow brand-new neurons, although perhaps not come the full extent of a nondrinker. 

Hastens dementia 

Heavy drinking in middle-aged adults is associated with a higher risk the dementia--but for this reason is teetotaling, according to the authors of a large prospective cohort study. The higher the alcohol consumption, the greater the risk. However, irradiate to moderate drinking (about 2 or fewer drink per day) is actually connected with a decreased risk the dementia. 

But, why carry out teetotalers additionally have a better risk the dementia? The writer pointed come a higher risk of cardiometabolic condition in this group, and also cardiometabolic an illness itself is linked to a higher risk the dementia. 

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Bottom line

Not every the news is bad. Alcohol has additionally been connected to some potentially hopeful effects, such together a protective effect from ischemic punch in larger people. But most specialists say the serious dangers of any type of amount that alcohol far outweigh the feasible benefits. 

“So also though your mom and ‘em were not right around alcohol zapping your brain cells, it can impair them, particularly if friend drink also much,” warned LSU’s Dr. Springgate. “And it is something to think around before you take it that second or 3rd drink.”