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Heart Health

This is your brain on alcohol

July 14, 2017
  • By Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

About the Author

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Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Beverly Merz is Executive Editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, a publication she helped start in 1993. Before coming to Harvard she was an Associate Editor of JAMA, Managing Editor with the Union of Concerned Scientists, … See Full Bio
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Beth Baiter
July 25, 2017

Why is non-alcoholic wine not sold in bars and restaurants and most liquor stores? There are acceptable brands and should be sold especially in places where non-alcoholic beer is available.

July 24, 2017

How arrogant of you to post recommendations for women in general, half the sky?, based on just about 100 women studied.

Versus 424 men. How can you post this in sincerity?

Is there any ascertainment of the women’s cognition levels before the test started? How can you possibly know what they do or do not remember later? Are these women who have learned to retain information for any length of time?

It is a shame you attempt to draw conclusions from such shallow research.

July 24, 2017

I rarely drink but a glass of good organic Wine preferably and only weekends. It is really difficult to go into a bar or restaurant and not ask for alcohol – everyone thinks you are weird if you don’t – but so I ‘cheat’ Sometimes instead of taking tea (love The way Japanese drink tea to all meals and occasions) then I have The waiter pour sparkling water in a glass with a straw, ice and lime – or thank god for the non-alcoholic drinks where no-one knows either. I wish though it would be much more socially acceptable and cool even, to not drink. I see Vitamin Well driving some nice Social media content of non-alcoholic and trying to make it if not hip then totally ok.

July 24, 2017

This is a great opportunity to be conservative! Don’t drink! However, it’s easy to understand why people do; and some people really can handle it so much better than others! I would like to know more about why that is true since I in some cases know a lot about their other habits. And there’s so much money in alcohol it’s truly sad.

July 24, 2017

So is smoking and I’d rather see NO SMOKING globally in favor of “mild/social alcohol”.

Catherine Polumbus
July 24, 2017

Im thinking I’d like to see a study that measures the consumption of sugar or oil associated with brain function. Could be worse things out there.

July 15, 2017

Amen Steven. Also, to say that alcohol makes you happier seems irresponsible to me. Alcohol is a depressant. While in the short term you may feel euphoria, over the long term it induces depression and sadness. It’s time to stop glorifying alcohol. It’s a drug, a depressant, and is not healthy for you. This whole “good in moderation” craziness needs to stop. When you dig a little deeper all of these good in moderation reports end up being sponsored by the alcohol industry to keep everyone addicted.

John Obvious
July 24, 2017


Steven Elliott
July 14, 2017

I always read anything about alcohol suspiciously because the stance on it changes regularly. At the end of the day, however, alcohol is a recognized toxin as are its byproducts. Acetaldehyde, for instance, is a known carcinogen so I don’t understand how a substance that causes cancer and shrinks the brain can also be recommended in moderation. It also damages the kidneys, liver and affects sleep adversely. I think if we are looking for something that can help the heart, perhaps diet and exercise should be looked at. Researching alcohol has to be infuriating because almost nobody is truthful in their reporting of it. With the new information citing brain shrinkage, I don’t see the benefit of it.

July 14, 2017

Agree one hundred percent

Celine Brabo
July 14, 2017

Thank you so much for saying that, Steven. I completely agree with you. And I would add that the negative effects of moderate alcohol consumption on family relationships are often overlooked.

July 24, 2017

Alcohol has been “acceptable” for way too long. It has no benefits! Brain shrinkage, cancer, addiction, ruins relationships, families and deaths….lets wake up and realize this is not ok.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

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