Ask McFartnuggets: “Does Drinking Alcohol Kill Brain Cells?”

If you really care about
your brain what are you
doing drinking to begin with?
Dear McFartnuggets: 
Is it really true that drinking alcohol kills brain cells? -- Denise from Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Dear Denise:
Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that drinking ethanol does not destroy brain cells. The problem is that alcohol damages dendrites in the brain. Dendrites are the ends of neurons that help transmit energy and information in the brain. So you don’t need to lose brain cells for drinking to make you stupid. Of course another factor can be all the things that you do while you’re drunk. For example, drinking might not kill your brain cells, but being tackled to the ground by a police officer for public nudity and having your skull crack against the sidewalk would definitely result in some sort of brain damage. Or maybe you’re driving home drunk and crash into a telephone pole and your forehead smashes against the steering wheel. Severe traumas like that do kill brain cells.  These are the types of things you have to take into account when you’re talking about alcohol consumption. So don’t just think that because alcohol doesn’t outright kill brain cells that it’s safe. When you look at the whole picture it still may as well be considered responsible. Thanks for your question, Denise.

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