3 Long Term Negative Health Effects Of Binge Drinking

2012-12-28 | |
Last updated: 2012-12-28

The Effects On The Brain From Binge Drinking

While the general effects on the immune system from binge drinking may only result in healthy people having more frequent colds, the effects of binge drinking on the brain are more significant.

Researchers from Scripps research institute found that in rats, binge drinking altered the portion of brain associated with working memory and self-control. The research also found increased levels of brain activity associated with anxiety and stress when the rats were not drinking. This creates a self-feeding cycle where individuals feel more comfortable when they drink even if they have no observable symptoms of alcohol dependence. At the same time, the ability of the working memory is reduced long term.

Another effect of binge drinking, discovered by Rutgers University researchers, is it effects on brain cells. The researchers found that binge drinking affects the creation of new brain cells and that drinking just 7 drinks in a week is enough to reduce the number of brain cells produced by 40%. For people who binge drink regularly, the researchers believe that long term learning ability will be affected.

In addition to long term learning ability, such drinking also has an effect on overall brain function as we age. Researchers from the University of Exeter followed more than 5000 adults aged 65 and older for 8 years to observe the effects of binge drinking on their mental abilities. What they observed was that those who engaged in binge drinking at least once per month were 60% more likely to have the worst decline in their memory and thinking abilities. Those who were binge drinking twice per month had twice the odds to develop memory and mental performance issues.

Similar results have been observed in research from the University of Helsinki showing that binge drinking in mid-life was a strong indicator for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s 20 to 30 years later. This makes the effect of binge drinking on long-term brain health especially significant.


Although occasionally drinking to excess is generally an accepted part of many cultures and holidays, doing so has long term effects on health when repeatedly regularly. While we may not immediately see the health effects of binge drinking aside from the hangover the next day, over the years, habitual binge drinking can affect our heart, our immune system and the effectiveness of our minds. As a consequence it is important to realize and speak up when the amount of alcohol that our loved ones or we consume is just too much for good long-term health.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks, Medical Research

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