Moderate Alcohol Consumption Found to Decrease Production of New Brain Cells

Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

In recent years there has been a lot of buzz about whether drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can actually be good for cardiovascular and brain health.  Many studies have been published showing a possible link between moderate drinking (up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 per day for men) and improved health, although these links have not been firmly established.Now, a new study by researchers at Rutgers University indicates that moderate to binge drinking can reduce the production of new brain cells in adults, and the researchers noted that moderate drinking can easily become binge drinking without the consumer even realizing it, as reported on

The researchers used rats to model heavy drinking in humans and found that rodents with a blood alcohol level of 0.08, the legal driving limit in the U.S., had reduced brain cell production.  This level of intoxication in the rats—equivalent to about 3-4 drinks for women and five drinks for men—reduced the number of nerve cells in the hippocampus by nearly 40 percent.

Over time, the researchers said, this could have serious consequences to brain plasticity because of the role new cells play in communicating with other neurons to regulate brain health.  Megan Anderson, a graduate student working with Tracey J. Shors, Professor II in Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers, said the research indicates that daily drinking may be more harmful to brain health than was previously thought.

No link has been firmly established between alcohol consumption and improved health, and those who have suggested a possible link in past studies have also routinely stated that individuals should not start drinking in attempt to improve health.

One thing is certain:  Alcohol has toxic effects, and use for some can and does become life-threatening.  Northbound Treatment Services specializes in treating individuals with alcohol addiction at its alcoholism treatment center.  The Center takes a holistic approach to recovery and combines individual and group therapies with 12-step to help individuals regain control of their lives. For more information about Northbound’s services, click here.

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