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an ouch and a sigh

>> Thursday, May 29, 2008

So my friends are surely hurting after my lovely friend's 25th. Lucky for me, I was the designated driver as usual. What I was wondering was how alcohol actually affects your body... I mean what are the scientific explanations for these effects?

First off, there are lots of different alcohols so what's in booze? Well... it's ethanol. Plain old EtOH. The same stuff we preserve specimens in. It is considered a psycho-active drug and that is why so many countries have laws that aid in limiting consumption. Think legal drinking ages. Alcohol slows reaction time and reduces attention. Most children are already close to ADD, so even less attentiveness seems scary. Yay for drinking ages (it's 18 here).

Where does the alcohol come from?
Fermentation. Fermentation is a yeast metabolizing carbohydrates without oxygen.
From all these carbs, EtOH is formed. So beer really is bread in a can!

Okay, I know, this is fine and good, but how does it work?
Well, alcohol stimulates insulin production, which speeds up how fast we metabolize sugar, causing low blood sugar and irritability. Consistently triggering these functions can destroy your liver. Alcohol does not, however, kill brain cells. It's a little sneakier than that. Alcohol damages dendrites. These are little "antennae" that receive messages and transfer them into the nerve cell. The effects are usually temporary, but the physical damage is done. Your nerve-cell structure has changed.

I think that's about all I got. Have fun with that!

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