A recent study has shown that long-term alcohol abuse can severely damage the outer lining of the brain. The injured layer is the cerebral cortex and is involved in all processes of higher level reasoning and in the processing of emotions. The researchers used advanced nuclear magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate the brain of 65 adults. About half were alcoholics who had stopped drinking. The rest had never been alcoholics. In the group of recovering alcoholics, the cerebral cortex had a lower thickness.
Study Shows Long-Term Alcohol Abuse Causes Brain Injuries
The higher the alcohol consumption, the lower the thickness of this cerebral layer. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research published this study on the Internet and Health Day News wrote about it on 15 September. Health Day also wrote about a position that urged doctors and governments to take more action to combat alcohol consumption. Lancet magazine published this position statement on 14 September, which was drafted by a group of 17 prominent doctors. Most of these physicians are president of medical societies from countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. The position came before a United Nations summit that took place in September. This was the first United Nations summit to address diseases that are not caused by infections.
What is the doctor’s reaction?
Study after study, it has been shown that people who drink alcohol in moderate amounts tend to have better health. The evidence is stronger for protection against heart attack and stroke. Moderate alcohol consumption raises blood levels of HDL-cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) and alters blood to decrease the risk of abnormal clots in the heart and brain. In addition, people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol may experience a decline in brain function as they get older.
But excessive alcohol consumption is very harmful to health. The list of diseases related to excessive alcohol consumption includes:
- Liver disease, which can progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Loss of brain cells and brain atrophy
- Cardiac insufficiency
- Cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus, especially when combined with tobacco use
- Breast cancer
- Trauma and death related to road accidents
Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as an average intake that does not exceed two drinks per day in men and one drink per day in women. The limit is higher in men due to the fact that, on average, they are larger than women. In addition, the body of men also metabolizes alcohol differently compared to the body of women.
Studies on moderate alcohol consumption and its health effects have been based on the amount of alcohol that people ingest, on average, per day. They have not been based on actual alcoholic intake patterns.
Intake of seven alcoholic beverages once a week is obviously not healthy, although this represents an average intake of one drink per day. But it is not yet clear whether taking two alcoholic drinks three or four times a week leads to the same health benefits as drinking one drink a day.
What changes can I make now?
While these questions are preferable to not doing any survey, most people who drink alcohol say they drink less than their actual consumption. So experts have outlined a few simple questions to better predict who might have a drink-related problem.
Usually, your doctor could ask you the following question:
- If you are male, “How many times in the past year did you drink five or more drinks in one day?”
- If female, “How many times in the past year did you drink four or more drinks in one day?”
If your response is greater than “once last year,” this may be a sign that there is unhealthy alcohol consumption. Or it may suggest that you are at risk of becoming dependent on alcohol.
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However, the CAGE test is a more appropriate tool for assessing whether a person already has a significant problem with alcohol. This test is called CAGE because the first few letters of a keyword in each question form the word “CAGE”.
Did you ever think you should cut into the drink?
- Did people annoy you by criticizing your alcohol intake?
- Have you ever felt guilty or bad about drinking?
- Have you ever had an alcoholic drink in the morning to calm your nerves, to free yourself from the hangover or to wake up?
What can I expect to look into the future?
If you are concerned that alcohol consumption may become more than moderate in the future, here are some suggestions to help you avoid this problem.
- Keep track of how much alcohol you drink. Check especially what you drink as you do. This will help you to reduce your consumption.
- Decrease the speed of alcohol consumption. Drink small goals slowly. Watch the clock. Limit your intake to one drink every 60 to 90 minutes.
- Switch your drinks. Drink something non-alcoholic before you ingest your next alcoholic beverage.
- Respond quickly “no thank you” when they offer you a drink. If this becomes your most natural response, you will be more likely to decline a drink from now on.
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- Confessions Of An Alcoholic
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- Cure Alcohol Addiction
- Alcohol – How It Affects Your Health?
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