Moderate Drinking More Destructive than Previously Thought
I am not sure if I can count all of the times I sat through something at a school concerning the dangers drinking. Of course drinking can be very dangerous when one drinks to excess, but drinking moderate is not so damaging, right? According to researchers at Rutgers University and the University of Jyvaskyla, even moderate drinking can cause brain damage, if it continues over a long period.
Binge drinking can seriously impair brain functions, including motor skills and short-term memory. Moderate drinking generally does not have these immediate and apparent effects on a person, but the effects it does have can still damage the brain. The researchers modeled moderate and heavy drinking with rodents by getting them to a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, the legal driving limit in many countries, including the US. Even at this 'safer' level of intoxication the researchers noted a 40% reduction in nerve cells in the hippocampus of the brain. This part of the brain is necessary for some types of learning and is one of the areas where new neurons are grown. Over time this reduction could amount to an inability to learn and remember new events, as well as decrease the plasticity and integrity of the brain itself.
The danger highlighted by this research is the lack of awareness of the issue, because it grows without the obvious impairments of being drunk. Just social and daily moderate drinking over months or years could damage your brain and you may not notice it as the damage happens.