Drink­ing ev­ery day crip­ples your brain - es­pe­cially if you're a woman

Any more than one glass of wine a night crushes cells in an es­sen­tial brain re­gion, study warns

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Kayla Brant­ley

Hav­ing more than one glass of wine a night is enough to kill cells in key re­gions of a woman's brain, ac­cord­ing to new re­search. A study on mice found that al­co­hol is par­tic­u­larly dam­ag­ing to the sub­ven­tric­u­lar re­gion of the brain, where new brain cells are cre­ated to sus­tain brain func­tion, and pro­tect against tu­mours and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases.

For the first time, re­search showed that fe­male brains dis­played more se­vere deficits after drink­ing than males, who would need more than 14 drinks a week to suf­fer sig­nif­i­cant dam­age.

The re­searchers in Texas said the find­ings, while alarm­ing, could open a door to com­bat­ing al­co­holism by help­ing us to un­der­stand al­co­hol-re­lated brain changes.

Dozens of stud­ies have shown that pro­longed al­co­hol abuse can cause se­vere brain dam­age and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion. In fact, on Wed­nes­day a lead­ing panel of on­col­o­gists re­leased a re­port link­ing al­co­hol to seven types of can­cers.

Sci­en­tists once be­lieved that the num­ber of nerve cells in the adult brain was fixed early in life and the best way to treat al­co­hol-in­duced brain dam­age was to pro­tect the re­main­ing nerve cells. But re­search has shown that adult brains pro­duce stem cells that create new nerve cells and al­co­hol is sup­press­ing that process.

Re­searchers from The Univer­sity of Texas Medical Branch at Galve­ston said this dis­cov­ery pro­vides a new way of ap­proach­ing the prob­lem of al­co­hol-re­lated changes in the brain.

Dr. Ping Wu, UTMB pro­fes­sor in the depart­ment of neu­ro­science and cell bi­ol­ogy, said: ' Be­fore the new ap­proaches can be de­vel­oped, we need to un­der­stand how al­co­hol im­pacts the brain stem cells at dif­fer­ent stages in their growth, in dif­fer­ent brain re­gions and in the brains of both males and fe­males.'

In the study, Wu and her col­leagues used a tech­nique that al­lowed them to tag brain stem cells and ob­serve how they mi­grate and de­velop into nerve cells over time. This al­lowed them to study the im­pact of longterm al­co­hol con­sump­tion on the cells.

The fe­male brains dis­played more se­vere in­tox­i­ca­tion be­hav­iours and greatly re­duced the pool of stem cells in the sub­ven­tric­u­lar zone, where the new cells are gen­er­ated.

The find­ings show that the ef­fects of re­peated al­co­hol con­sump­tion dif­fered across brain re­gions. And the re­gion most sus­cep­ti­ble to the ef­fects of al­co­hol was one of two brain re­gions where new cells are cre­ated in adults.

Sci­en­tists ex­pect to learn more about how al­co­hol in­ter­acts with brain stem cells, which will ul­ti­mately lead to a clearer un­der­stand­ing of how best to treat and cure al­co­holism. This study comes on the heels of a land­mark re­port warn­ing that al­co­hol can cause seven can­cers in­clud­ing mouth, throat, breast and col­orec­tal can­cers. The re­port ad­vises that drink­ing one or less drinks a day for women and two or less drinks a day for men greatly re­duces the de­vel­op­ment of these can­cers.

How­ever, other stud­ies have shown the ben­e­fits of light al­co­hol con­sump­tion. Drink­ing a glass of wine, or five ounces with a 12 per­cent al­co­hol con­tent, can lower one's risk of dy­ing from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, re­search found. But the re­port does warn that heavy drink­ing in­creases the risk of mor­tal­ity and the de­vel­op­ment life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses.

Pro­longed al­co­hol abuse can cause se­vere brain dam­age

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