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The latest from researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill: binge drinking among college students “can lead to lower intelligence and impulsive behavior.”1 What’s binge drinking? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines it as: 5 or more drinks in a drinking episode for men, or 4 or more drinks for women.2 See my post “Women and Alcohol” for info on why it’s 4 drinks for women and 5 for men.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego looked at brain scans of young folks who drink compared to brain scans of young folks who don’t drink. They “found damaged nerve tissue in the brains of the teens that drank. [They] believe this damage negatively affects attention span in boys, and girls’ ability to comprehend and interpret visual information.”3
Here’s what’s crazy: the young folks whose brains they scanned didn’t drink all that frequently – on average once or twice a month, with 4 to 5 drinks each episode (which is technically binge drinking, ya’ll). That doesn’t seem like very much, right? Well, it is. See, our brains are still growing and developing, actually until we’re about 25, and exposing those brains to the toxic effects of alcohol (it’s an intoxicant, friends!) is bad news bears.
But here’s the thing, we (meaning us young folk) aren’t as likely to experience immediate negative health stuff like nausea, vomiting, and really nasty hangovers as older folk are, but binge drinking actually affects us more in the long run. Because we don’t experience as many effects right away, we may not think it hurt us in the long run. But it does, friends! No word yet whether this damage is reversible.
So protect those brains and if you choose to drink, drink moderately, which means no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.2