Alcohol has been a part of human civilisation for as long as it has existed: it has gods dedicated to it, it has mysteries that require it and also it has been associated with prophecy in most cultures.
As a result of this ubiquitous presence, alcohol’s ill-effects, no matter how much they are publicised, are more than often brushed off or shrugged off. What is uncanny is the fact that no matter how fun drinking is, no matter how easy it makes one feel after a break-up and no matter how long it has stayed, something as harmful as drinking is legal and strangely even encouraged in certain situations, while things that are comparatively harmless or even beneficial, like marijuana are not.
It has been known for some time now that even in less frequent drinkers, alcohol can cause cancer among many other things. Only recently have researchers begun to shed light on alcohol’s effect on the brain.
In a study published in July of 2017 in the medical journal The BMJ, they presented evidence supporting an early and lasting hypothesis that alcohol is very bad for the certain areas of the brain.
“The study followed 550 men and women for 30 years, measuring their brain structure and function to determine how alcohol use affects the mind over time. What they found is that the more people drank, the more atrophy occurred in the brain’s hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure in your brain that plays a role in storing memories. The highest risk was for people who drank 17 standard drinks or more of alcohol per week. But even people who drank moderately saw an elevated risk for cognitive changes.”
Remember the signs of drinking? Slurred speech, loss of memory, fits etc? Well it would appear those things belong to the domain of the hippocampus, which controls the limbic system of the brain and the centres for memory.
This research shows how regular binge drinking can cause actual atrophy of the hippocampus. Atrophy would lead to further compound degeneration of the organ over the years because of more and more alcohol intake.
And obviously by then it won’t be limited to the hippocampus.
Of course as research methods advance each day, we are getting new insights into how something that has been exalted for years as something beneficial for health in moderation can be this harmful.
And most of the publicising has been about liver problems and how eventually alcoholics develop cirrhosis and other fatal ailments. Brain problems are a new domain altogether.
There are a number of long-ranging and long-lasting, subtle, deteriorative aspects of alcohol consumption which run opposite to the reasoning of it being legal and so commonplace in our society, unless you consider that chronically poor health is a business model in today’s world.
The medical establishment which is after all one of the largest businesses, benefits financially from people whose health is in continuous decline, and natural/organic substances which actually improve health while providing recreational mind-altering experiences continue to be criminalised.