Health & Wellbeing

Four beers a day is enough to stunt annual growth of developing brains by almost 47%

Four beers a day is enough to ...
New research in macaques backs up human data showing a significant decrease in brain growth in young alcohol users
New research in macaques backs up human data showing a significant decrease in brain growth in young alcohol users
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New research in macaques backs up human data showing a significant decrease in brain growth in young alcohol users
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New research in macaques backs up human data showing a significant decrease in brain growth in young alcohol users

A study at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) of alcohol's effect on rhesus macaque monkeys has shown nasty effects on developing brains. Each gram of alcohol per kilogram of body weight (the human equivalent of four beers a day) reduced the rate of brain growth by nearly 47 percent per year.

The researchers noted a significant decline in the rate of growth of the brain, cerebral white matter and subcortical thalamus, using MRIs to measure brain growth in adolescent and young adult monkeys that voluntarily consumed ethanol or alcoholic drinks. Alcohol intake, diet, daily schedules and health care were precisely measured.

This study was an attempt to follow up on previous studies that had shown alcohol's effect on brain development in humans – but the human studies were based on potentially unreliable self-reporting of alcohol intake by underage drinkers, instead of precise measurements. Christopher Kroenke, Ph.D, an associate professor in the Division of Neuroscience at OHSU's primate center, said this study eliminated any vagueness around this point: "our measures pinpoint alcohol drinking with the impaired brain growth."

The study also managed to determine the normal rate of brain growth in rhesus macaques in late adolescence and early adulthood at about 1 mm per 1.87 years – so a reduction of 0.25 mm of growth per year represents a 46.75 percent decline in heavy alcohol users. That's a heavy price to pay for the human equivalent of four beers a day, an amount that many college kids might call a light day's drinking.

Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health, the study made no claims about any long-term effects on mental function or learning, but is planning to address these questions in further research.

The team's research was published in the journal eNeuro.

Source: OHSU

7 comments
graham30
I recommend that rhesus macaque monkeys don't get into drinking alcohol then, although admittedly that would require quite a lot of advancement over their current level of development. It would be interesting to see how a few thousand years of 'selection for people who can developmentally cope with alcohol' has changed the effect in humans.
ChairmanLMAO
they should meet the qualifications for government then.
paul314
Did they try the macaques on binge drinking? I don't remember doing 4 beers a day in college, but I do remember the occasional days/nights when I don't know how many beers I drank.
Cryptonoetic
Wow... and I thought the scare "studies" done 50 years ago on marijuana were alarmist. According to this study, my brain is only half as large as it would have been if I only had stayed off the suds. Oh well...
BrianK56
If they are trying to equate this to young humans, I should be a vegetable with all the drinking that I did.
GregVoevodsky
Glad to see pot has been made legal and caffeine inhalers are now cool. Why would you want to drop the voting age to 16? It should be raised back to 21.
aksdad
It's sad to see the justifications wielded by people who drink alcoholic beverages. The evidence is incontrovertible: alcohol is a poison, it crosses the blood-brain barrier, it kills brain cells. There are numerous studies dating back decades showing the negative effects of alcohol and the extreme debilitating effects in alcoholics. Yet the "social drinkers" insist that the problems don't apply to them. Once more: alcohol is toxic. Drinking a little doesn't destroy you as badly as drinking a lot, but why take the chance?