Alcohol affects you in just six minutes

Changes take place in brain cells after six minutes

Alcohol goes to your head in just six minutes, scientists have revealed.
 
For the first time, researchers have proved the rapid changes that drinking alcohol causes in human brain cells. Previous tests on how alcohol affects the brain have only been done on animals.
 
Scientists from Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany set out to test the well-known saying that just one drink can quickly go to your head.

Only six minutes after consuming an amount of alcohol equivalent to three glasses of beer or two glasses of wine, leading to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.06%, changes had already taken place in brain cells.

Eight male and seven female volunteers took part in an experiment where they drank a specified amount of alcohol through a 90cm-long straw while lying in a MRI brain scanner. The scanner allowed the scientists to examine the tiny changes in brain cell tissue structure caused by the alcohol.

Dr Armin Biller, a neurologist at the hospital, said chemical substances which normally protect brain cells are reduced as the concentration of alcohol increases. Perhaps surprisingly, the study found that men’s and women’s brains reacted to alcohol consumption the same way.

The team found the harmful effects of alcohol on the brain may be shortlived, but over time cells took longer to repair themselves. Dr Biller said: ‘Our follow-ups on the next day showed that the shifts in brain metabolites after moderate consumption of alcohol by healthy persons are completely reversible.

‘However, we assume that the brain’s ability to recover from the effect of alcohol decreases or is eliminated as the consumption of alcohol increases. The acute effects demonstrated in our study could possibly form the basis for the permanent brain damage that is known to occur in alcoholics.’

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