Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?

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Offline miriam0920

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« on: 12/09/2008 22:43:18 »
I would like to know how much damage can drinking beer cause to my brain's Neurons.  Is it true that alcohol kills unreplaceable Neurons?
Also, if humans in a lifetime only uses 10% of their brain, can they use more of that by studying?

Thanks.

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blakestyger

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« Reply #1 on: 12/09/2008 23:17:42 »
As I understand it, the neurons aren't killed per se.
The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has written that the main effect of alcohol on brain tissue is that the communication between neurons is impaired. The walls of brain cells are composed of two parallel barriers of molecules with fat between. The stability of the molecules that comprise this two-layered structure determines how readily an electrical signal (the action potential) will be conducted along it.
Alcohol (a solvent) destabilizes the molecular configuration of the neuronal walls and once these are compromised the electrical signal isn't sent as normal. This results in the changes in perception we experience when ratted.

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Offline miriam0920

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« Reply #2 on: 13/09/2008 00:33:55 »
Great. I've heard that studying and challenging the brain and eventually help you to stay sane and not suffer Alzheimer or any other mental disease.

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Offline RD

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« Reply #3 on: 13/09/2008 00:52:59 »

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« Reply #4 on: 14/09/2008 12:16:29 »
Blake - spot on.
Fledgling science site at http://www.sciencefile.org/SF/content/view/54/98/ needs members and original articles. If you can help, please join.

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Offline RD

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« Reply #5 on: 14/09/2008 15:58:49 »
Alcohol does cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, (particularly in the unborn)...

Quote
Alcohol:  Physiologic effects of chronic alcohol use include the following:

Gastrointestinal - Cirrhosis of the liver, peptic ulcer disease, gastritis, pancreatitis, and carcinoma.
Cardiovascular - Hypertension and cardiomyopathy.
Neurological - Peripheral neuropathy leading to ataxia, Wernicke encephalopathy, Korsakoff psychosis, and structural changes in the brain leading to dementia.
Immunologic - Suppression of neutrophil function and cell-mediated immunity.
Endocrine - In males, increase in estrogen and decrease in testosterone, leading to impotence, testicular atrophy, and gynecomastia.
Obstetric - Fetal alcohol syndrome (ie, mental retardation, facial deformity, other neurologic problems).
Psychiatric - Depression or anxiety disorders.
http://www.emedicine.com/EMERG/topic20.htm

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« Reply #6 on: 14/09/2008 16:36:40 »
RD - those conditions are not caused by damage to the neurons themselves, but by interruption of the signals through the synapses. Alcohol impairs the transmission of those signals. Most, if not all, of the associated symptoms can be seen in people who are drunk - loss of co-ordination, confusion, loss of short-term memory, etc.

Actual Wernicke's & Korsakoff are caused by lack of thiamine.
« Last Edit: 14/09/2008 16:42:03 by DoctorBeaver »
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Offline RD

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« Reply #7 on: 14/09/2008 17:04:26 »
RD - those conditions are not caused by damage to the neurons themselves, but to the transmission of signals through the synapses. Alcohol impairs those transmissions. Most, if not all, of the associated symptoms can be seen in people who are drunk - loss of co-ordination, confusion, loss of short-term memory, etc.

Actual Wernicke's & Korsakoff are caused by lack of thiamine.

The above posts specifically regarding neurons could give readers the false impression that alcohol does not cause neurological damage.

I thought I should make it clear that alcohol does directly and indirectly cause damage to the nervous system.

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is it true that Alcohol kills Neurons?
« Reply #8 on: 14/09/2008 18:37:41 »
RD - that's a fair enough point, and it is certainly true that, over time, excessive alcohol use can permanently impair the CNS.
Fledgling science site at http://www.sciencefile.org/SF/content/view/54/98/ needs members and original articles. If you can help, please join.