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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Video: Here’s How Booze Doesn’t Actually Kill Your Brain Cells

That's one myth busted. But it doesn't mean that all the news for drinkers is good.

3 Substance

Well, this is tremendously good news for some of us! Turns out, alcohol does not actually devour its way hungrily through your cognitive matter like PacMan. According to this video by the folks at SciShow, this is just a myth that arose during Prohibition era. And unlike other common myths of the time—like the idea that drinking booze could make you burst into flames—this one stuck.

As the video explains, your liver metabolizes alcohol and flushes it through your system. But if you overdo it, the excess alcohol enters your blood stream and reaches your brain, where it interrupts communication between neurons (nerve cells in your brain). So while booze doesn’t actually kill these cells, it does mess with how they function for a while, making it harder to do simple tasks. Like talking, or walking, or making good decisions.

Still not convinced? Apparently, scientists in 1993 actually counted the neurons in brain samples from alcoholics and non-alcoholics, and both had the same number. Whew! 

But drinking large quantities of alcohol over time, the video explains, can still impair how your brain functions. The good news for us recovering alcohols is that if you quit, your brain cells get back to normal fairly fast. The bad news is, we’ll now need a new excuse to act flaky.