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Science

Alcohol is Good for Your Brain 77

An anonymous reader writes "A new study reported on by Nature is saying that moderate consumption of alchohol wards off dementia. Better drink up!"
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Alcohol is Good for Your Brain

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  • agreed (Score:3, Funny)

    by cipher uk ( 783998 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @10:38PM (#11427646)
    yeahr i drank all la time n look at me! alchol nver di d me any harm
  • And (Score:4, Insightful)

    by obeythefist ( 719316 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @10:39PM (#11427666) Journal
    It damages your stomach lining, damages your liver and can cause diabetes, increases your weight, and increases your risk of bowel cancer.

    Moderation is a very good idea.

    • Re:And (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @10:44PM (#11427699)
      ...water dillutes the acids in your stomach, causing lining buildup and limiting your ability to break down foods, which can cause malnutrition.

      Seriously, name ONE thing that doesn't have an adverse side effect in any way, especially if you exagerate your claims (alcohol is good for your liver... in moderation).
    • french fries are deadly too, when taken too much too often.

      so is sundaes.

      so is candy.

      so is steaks.

      so is..

      but you don't get drunk from any of those so alcohol wins. at least you have fun while killing yourself.
    • With bad stomach from all the Mt. Dew and junk food, diabetes from too much sweets and increased weight from, you know, sitting at our computers all day -- BUT WE STILL VALUE OUR BRAIN! ;-)

      Reminder -- you are not on the "Health Channel" (or whatever)...

      Paul B.
  • by ohchaos ( 564646 ) * on Thursday January 20, 2005 @10:40PM (#11427672)
    "Well ya see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."
    • That's like saying my cars will go faster when the weakest cylinders are removed. Total horsepower goes down. But, I'll grant you, you'll get a better horsepower/weight ratio for your engine/brain.
      • Actually that would give a lower hp/weight ratio, I think you mean greater hp/litre ratio. I believe the hp/braincell ratio still stands though.
        • 6 cylinders, average 600 HP total is 100 HP/cyl average. If all Cyls weigh the same, and we remove 2 underperforming cyls that only give 75 HP ea. then we have removed 150HP (25%) at a weight savings of 33%.

          Net result is more HP per unit weight of engine, with a lower total engine output. More effecient, but less power overall.

          Or brain wise, more BrainPower per neuron, but fewer neurons working to do the things brains do.

          PS: I want a 450 HP 4 banger that's street legal, emissions legal, and requires only
          • I'll start by wishing you the best of luck removing those two cylinders. As I have experienced my automotive engineering degree so far and from what I have observed during my work with a FormulaStudent team, the power-to-weight ratio most commonly refers to the power produced by the engine over the net weight of the entire vehicle. Nontheless I think you will find the reduction in engine weight would not offset the larger weight of the vehicle alongside the reduction in power.

            Start with a vehicle of curb
            • okay, the VEHICLE would have fewer HP sure, that's the problem, the brain/engine would be more effecient, but have less HP overall. It's an ANALOGLY.
              • IANABS (I Am Not A Brain Surgeon) so I'll leave the analogising to you in this case, however;

                by roseblood (631824) on Friday January 21, @03:08AM (#11427870)

                "That's like saying my cars will go faster when the weakest cylinders are removed. Total horsepower goes down. But, I'll grant you, you'll get a better horsepower/weight ratio for your engine/brain."

                I was merely pointing out that you would not recieve a better power-to-weight ratio which i think i have shown.
                Thanks

                • The ENGINE will have a better horsepower/weight ratio.

                  I didn't claim a CAR would bet a better HP/lb ratio.

                  Throw the same engine into a car and make no additional changes to the car, then the car won't see enough wegith reduction to get a better horsepower/weight ratio.
                  • by roseblood (631824) on Saturday January 22, @04:20AM (#11438890)

                    The ENGINE will have a better horsepower/weight ratio.

                    As per your concept of engine efficiency improvement/modification/butchery only considering the engine.
                    A 600BHP V6 engine of weight 200kg (with two duff cylinders producing 75BHP each) The PWR of this engine is 3
                    Remove two faulty cylinders, approx 33% of engine weight, giving us a modified weight of 167kg. Now producing 450BHP The PWR is now 2.69

                    Now you can quote me on this
                    W

      • Your analogy doesn't hold at all to what the quote says.

        If you want to stick with the auto analogies, it would be more like saying an 18 wheeler will perform better with 17 tires than 18 tires, one of which is over inflated.
      • That's not a great analogy. If you must use a car analogy, how about the following:

        Suppose you have an engine with a burned valve. This means that on one cylinder there is little or no compression, and so that cylinder is just pulling in air/fuel and pushing it out unburned on each cycle, because good compression is required for ignition. In this case the cylinder is just dead weight: it contributes to frictional losses as the other cylinders have to move the piston up and down the cylinder against the
  • I wonder if this study has any relation to the one about how beer can prevent cancer. Woudl be interesting to see if it was the actual alcohol, or possibly a by-product of the alcohol making process.
    • Re:Related article (Score:3, Informative)

      by obeythefist ( 719316 )
      It's more likely certain side effects of the alcohol, reducing blood pressure and so on.

      Some wines contain tanins (acids) that are considered reasonably healthy, although I know some people have allergies to the tanins, and become itchy and red from drinking red wine.

      Antioxidants are also present in some alcoholic beverages.

      Moderation is incredibly important however.

      • IANAD, but unless you have a tanin intolerance, drinking (quality) red wine is the "healthiest" form of alcohol consumption.

        Healthwise, beer isn't too bad either, but personally I find it harder to stop drinking after 2-3 beers than after 2-3 glasses of wine.

        What worries me is that today's teens don't seem to like beer or wine. Instead they drink premixes like Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice. The high sugar levels in such drinks gets the alcohol into the bloodstream much faster. The sugar also makes it t
  • With news like this then January 24th [slashdot.org] WILL be the worst day of the year for me! My resolution can only take so much bombardment!
  • by bikerguy99 ( 650704 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @10:49PM (#11427731)
    90's? How many times we've heard about good then bad effects of coffee? It's same thing now with alcohol - it's a fad no more than that... I say - we live only once so party hard while you have a chance and especially if you are a nerd - there will be only fewer of them chances in the future... just make sure that your fun does not cause other people's suffering - driving while drunk isn't cool - you wouldn't be writing code while drunk, would you?
    • by mosel-saar-ruwer ( 732341 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @10:59PM (#11427799)

      you wouldn't be writing code while drunk, would you?

      Actually, I've found it more than a little disturbing to learn just how easy it is to write code after a couple of glasses of wine. Or even a bottle.

      Makes you realize that a monkey really could do this shit...

      • 'Tis true, IMHO. If I have a big project to do and a deadline looming, I go home, put some loud music on (Hanzel Und Gretyl is good) and make sure I have a bottle of absinthe or vodka at hand, as well a pack or two of clove cigarettes...

        For some reason, I do my best work that way.

        (The green fairy codes me!)
        • Ah, absinthe! The source inspiration of many artists and geniuses.

          It contains a chemical compound very similar to THC (the active component of marihuana), and it's been banned in Holland for a long long time, which is quite odd 'cause buying pot is legal here. Many believed it would make you crazy like hell. However, science could never back this statement, and now (thanks to new EU laws) it's available again since last year.

          I like your choice in drinks. I'm not sure about the music though :P

          On the subje
    • by sideshow ( 99249 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @11:23PM (#11427985)
      you wouldn't be writing code while drunk, would you?

      I guess I have a habit of doing this. I can't remember doing it, but I find a comment in my code that says: "//Fix Later, too drunk." every couple of months.

      • I get that too, though the comments usually look more like:
        "fgasixx lahtyery;l/d mmmoree toioi dyrbriubknk"
        The code looks even worse. Does anyone else have a serious problem typing after only a couple drinks? Or, is it just me?
        • I have refused to code after even one drink after a most amusing incident.

          After drinking several glasses of mead one night, I aparently got a really great idea that I wanted to code. I woke up the next morning and saw the IDE was open with a file displayed, so I compiled it.

          It compiled perfectly, but did absolutely nothing and I couldn't figure out what the heck it was supposed to do. That's when I decided not to code after drinking =]
  • by FuturePastNow ( 836765 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @10:58PM (#11427796)
    so how does this help /. users?
  • All day, I've been wanting to crack into a bottle of Sake I got in my stocking.

    I read that, and cracked into it.

    Cheers!
  • I find that large amounts work pretty good for dementia too.

    At least near-term dementia.
  • "Me? Drunk? No officer, I've merely been warding off dementia!"
  • It's true! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak.yahoo@com> on Thursday January 20, 2005 @11:34PM (#11428093) Homepage Journal
    If all your braincells are dead from alcohol poisoning, I guarantee you won't get dementia.


    The effects of alcohol on heart disease is also a myth. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the effect is from flavenoids, which are found in grapes and therefore found in wines.


    It is certainly possible that there are chemicals which will block dementia. It depends on exactly what the underlying mechanisms are. For example, if an accumulation of some molecule XYZ is shown to be a cause, then all you need to do is find something that'll help eliminate it from the body.


    For toxic levels of iron, for example, you'd probably use something like deferoxamine (DFO) which makes it possible to filter the excess iron out of the system.


    Selenium, in high enough doses, is known to cause all sorts of neurological problems. Aluminium is suspected of doing the same. Mercury doesn't even need high doses. And these are just your basic elements. We're not even into the compounds.


    One form of senile dementia - Alzheimer's Disease - is associated with the crushing of brain cells by the formation of a form of tau protein. Since proteins can't pass through the blood-brain barrier, it seems reasonable to suppose that the tau protein is manufactured by the brain itself.


    This would seem to require two components - an instruction to produce this protein and something to cause that instruction to be carried out endlessly. Not a million miles from how cancers are a result of a cell replicating itself endlessly. Same infinite loop, different function call in the DNA.


    There is considerable evidence that many cancers have an external component to trigger the infinite loop. It seems reasonable to deduce from this that other infinite loops are triggered the same way. A loop is a loop is a loop. It doesn't matter what's in it.


    From this, we can also reasonably deduce that avoiding trigger chemicals and/or taking in something that'll prevent the body retaining or picking up those trigger chemicals would likely reduce your chances of getting dementias caused by this kind of process.


    So far, so good. The first problem is that dementia covers a VERY wide range of conditions, few of which have been studied and even fewer understood. The second problem is that there isn't much good data on the environmental factors in dementia and the data that does exist (say for Aluminium) is so controversial that it is next to useless as a practical guide. Finally, the third problem is that even if you produce a list of suspects, there simply aren't any known ways of getting rid of many of them and more than a few of those are extremely toxic themselves, making them useless for a DIY remedy.

    • What level of alcohol can cause dementia? Is it the direct effect of the alcohol on the brain, or is it the effect of malnutrition related to alcohol consumption.

      My experience with a family member and more recently with a friend suggests that alcohol consumption and related health and cognitive problems may be a be more of a problem than people let on. Is consumption of 10 ounces of vodka a day problematic? I observed this level of consumption in an 80 year old not long before that person had to enter

      • Alcohol affects the brain in a great many ways. Some effects are obvious (it alters the way the brain cells interact), some are less obvious (it is hygroscopic, so alters the water levels and therefore the internal chemistry of individual brain cells), and some effects may not be known at all.

        Older people have all of the problems you highlighted, plus reduced organ function (which inhibits the body's ability to detect or deal with harmful chemicals), plus any build-ups of byproducts that the body retains.

    • The effects of alcohol on heart disease is also a myth.
      What about the effects of alcohol on vascular health? I vaguely recall a recent /. article which described positive effects in that area, which - if they're not also a myth - could help with heart disease too?
    • Interesting post. I'm surprised you stuck to chemical causes, though, and didn't point a finger or two at a virus. I mean, considering that they deliberatly put cells into the types of endless loops that you refered to...
  • by Ra5pu7in ( 603513 ) <ra5pu7in AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 20, 2005 @11:44PM (#11428171) Journal
    What the study considers moderate drinking is on average no more than a single glass of wine (wine glass, not tumbler), a single bottle/can of beer, or a single shot or mixed drink containing no more than a shot's worth of alcohol in a day. That is moderation. The damage from exceeding that moderate level outweighs the benefits very quickly.

    PS: Read a little bit more and you find out that the study was only done on a group of women (no men - just assumptions of equivalent or greater effect).
    • yeah lotsa people here try to be funny and talk about excessive intake. excessive intake is bad for the brain! especially at the age of typical /. readers (puberty/early adolesence) recent results point out that development of worldview etc is severely hampered by excessive alcohol intake during this period, and might cause irreversibel damage (your prefontal lobe is sort of hardwired after adolesence) possibly causing sociopathic behaviour.

      http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/brain/a/blacer03 0 91 6_2.htm

      a few
  • Baahh! I've lived through the years of Prohibition and haven't had a drink since then! I'm not demented like a monkey drinks on the first date of his bar mitvah. Why do people say I'm demented [alzheimers.org.uk]?

  • Just like your muscles get bigger and stronger as they heal after a tough workout, so does your brain get denser and smarter as it heals from a weekend of heavy drinking.
  • Large consumption have their uses as well. I've killed off almost all the braincells which were storing images of Bill Gates 1983 Teen Beat Mag! On the downside I can't remember my cats name, or at least I think she's mine.
  • Look what consuming mass quantities of alcohol did for Arthur Dent. Not only was he able to stave off dementia, but he was able to withstand the rigors of space travel on a Vogon ship. If that isn't an endorsement of alcohol, I'm not sure what is.
  • I uust dr4ank seven tshots of tequila and myf brain doens't feel asdny healthyier.

  • by Makecash ( 852311 )
    There have been earlier studies that have shown that daily, moderate alcohol comsumption can help prevent both heart diseases and stroke.
    Thats around 1-3 drinks per day
    But again earlier studies have shown that excess alcohol drinking can lead to the destruction of the liver or can be toxic to the brain (alcoholic dementia)
    The new study showing that alcohol may fight Alzheimer's involved more than 5,000 people over the age of 55 and lasted for six years.
    At the beginning of the study, none of the particip
  • I wrote a book about this which was published in 1992. The entire contents of that book are available for free at french-paradox.net/ [french-paradox.net]

    I have not updated the book since I wrote it, but since its first publication, scores of well-conducted, peer-reviewed studies in the top scientific and medical publications have continued to conform the earlier evidence and -- like this one in Nature -- have found even more healthy results from moderate consumption.

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