Alcohol is such a ubiquitous part of our culture that it’s easier to brush off any news of its harm than it is to even consider abandoning it in favor of better health, mental clarity, and spiritual awareness. And while there is no doubt that drinking can be fun, and no doubt that it is here to stay, it is still fascinating to see how a substance as harmful as alcohol can be legal and so well-accepted while other mind-altering substances are punished so severely.
We’ve known for some time that even casual drinkers are susceptible to the downside of alcohol, and some research has even linked it to the development of cancer. The latest research into the harm of alcohol looks at how it affects the brain.
In a study published in July of 2017 in the medical journal The BMJ, researchers presented evidence supporting the enduring 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.” [Source]
The hippocampus plays a major role in regulating the body’s limbic system and memory, which explains why drunk people are well-known to have slurred speech, lethargic movement, poor memory and suffer from blackouts.
This study points out, though, that regular drinkers may be experiencing continued atrophy of the hippocampus, meaning that as the years go by, the effects compound, creating serious health issues as we age.
As research methods improve we are learning more about cognitive changes in the brain in people who drink on a regular basis. The significance of these developments is best understood by looking at the cultural exaltation of alcohol as something that is harmless in moderation, and something that supposedly provides a bevy of positive benefits.
“As methods of investigating the association between alcohol and health are refined, however, the size of the apparent benefits reduces substantially.” [Source]
There are a number of long-ranging, subtle, deteriorative aspects of alcohol consumption which run counter to the wisdom of it be legal and so prevalent in our society unless you consider that chronically poor health is a business model in today’s world. The medical establishment benefits financially from people whose health is in continuous decline, and natural substances which actually improve health while providing enjoyable recreational experiences continue to be persecuted.