In a recent study published in the widely read journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, scientists have revealed that binge drinking may increase the chances of brain damage in an individual significantly. The study found that binge drinking increased across the board, for all ages and genders. However, the biggest gainers in the 2002-2012 period were women. Women saw an increase of 36% in terms of the number of women participating in binge drinking. The lead author of the study, Ali Mokdad said, “it seems like the women are trying to catch up to the men.”
Researchers involved in the said study analyzed an association between memory loss and binge drinking in some young and adult rats with specific focus on their hippocampus. For those who don’t know: the hippocampus is a part of the brain and is linked with learning memory.
During the analysis, the researchers came to know that excessive drinking might make brain cells more susceptible to trauma and injury, as well as diseases during adulthood.
Mary Louis Risher, the study’s lead author, said that an individual becomes adult legally when he or she turns 18; however, brain development continues to take place even when one is in his/her mid 20s.
She added that it’s extremely important that young individuals know that heavy drinking during this developmental phase might result in occurrence of changes that can have long term effects on different cognitive functions including memory. Risher works at the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
During the study, researchers analyzed the brains of the young rodents for 16 consecutive days after making them consume alcohol. The amount of alcohol given to them was enough for causing impairment in humans, but not sufficient for triggering a “blackout”.
Soon after, researchers stopped offering the rats alcohol and waited until they reached adulthood. The process took around 24-29 days.
In the next step of the study, researchers sent a minor electrical pulse into the hippocampus of the rodents’ brains and measured the reaction of their synapses in an attempt to learn the new task. They found that excessive alcohol consumption altered the way their hippocampus functioned.
It’s true that having a glass of alcohol once in a while doesn’t affect health. However, one should never increase the frequency of drinking, at least when young, if he or she wants to have good cognitive health.
That’s not all; heavy drinking, irrespective of the age group you belong to, can make you suffer from a range of other significant health problems. These problems can be worse if you have started drinking very early in life.