FACT: Drinking does not kill brain cells. According to Lifehacker's 8 Stubborn Alcohol Myths, Debunked by Science...
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Brain
So stop saying that alcohol kills brain cells:
Alcohol does all kinds of things to your body, but killing brain cells is not one of them. Over the years, several studies show that alcohol doesn't kill brain cells, but it does affect how the brain works. The New York Times sums up the research well:
Alcohol disrupts brain function in adults by damaging message-carrying dendrites on neurons in the cerebellum, a structure involved in learning and motor coordination. This reduces communication between neurons, alters their structure and causes some of the impairment associated with intoxication. It does not kill off entire cells, however.
So, too much alcohol can impair brain function (including memory). However, it's not because brain cells get killed off, it's because the neurons aren't communicating as well they should. The damage is akin to running into pot holes along your daily commute: you still get to work, but it takes you a lot longer.
The whole article is worth reading, by the way:
Also, there is no known hangover cure that works for everyone.
Myth Eight: Shrimp, Green Tea, Coffee, More Alcohol, Etc. Will Cure a Hangover
Everyone has their own hangover cure. Perhaps an older brother suggested a hot shower and cup of coffee, or a wise coworker insists that eggs on toast slathered in hot sauce fixes everything. Most of these "cures" are bogus, but curiously we're still not completely certain what the best way to treat a hangover is. In fact, one review suggests that the only viable way to prevent or treat a hangover is to abstain from drinking. So, let's look at what doctors typically recommend for a hangover:
- Water: Alcohol is a diuretic and every time you pee you're losing water. So, drinking water the next day helps you get your hydration level back to normal, which typically helps with a headache caused by dehydration. Speaking of headaches, you can lessen those symptoms with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Foods with fructose: Fructose, also known as fruit sugar, gives you energy and helps your body excrete toxins. One study suggests that this boost in energy can help shorten the effects on a hangover, but it's not clear how much of an effect it has.
- Foods with complex carbohydrates: A review of studies found that foods containing complex carbohydrates like toast or crackers may help alleviate nausea by leveling out low blood sugar levels. That said, The Smithsonian points out that stomach relief medication like Tums or Pepto-Bismol might do just as well.
- Reduce acetaldehyde levels: Newer research published in Food & Function suggests that hangovers are primarily caused by an enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). The liver releases this enzyme to convert alcohol into another chemical acetaldehyde. Researchers found that if they reduced the time that acetaldehyde was in the body, the hangover subsided. They also found that the best way to do this was with Sprite, although further research is still needed.
All this is to say: we're still not sure what the best hangover cure is and there's not a lot of research that'll help clear that up right now. Most of the above methods are from smaller studies without reproductions, and Wired points out that even the intuitive idea that water helps is up for debate (and one study backs this up):
Take dehydration. Sure, it makes sense: Alcohol suppresses the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin, which ordinarily keeps you from peeing too much. Plus, if you're drinking booze, you're probably not drinking water. But in dehydrated people with hangovers, levels of electrolytes don't differ too much from baseline controls—and when they do, they don't correlate with hangover severity.
So, where does that leave this myth? Still undecided, it seems. The science is pretty confused about what works for hangovers. Either way, some water and carbohydrates can't hurt the situation, so it's best to stick with whatever works for you for the time being. And if you want to avoid it next time, just go a little easier on the booze.