Alcohol and the Brain


By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Researchers using imaging technology can see the damage that continued alcohol abuse does to the brain.

At the VA Boston Healthcare System, Catherine Brawn Fortier looked at data on 31 people who had been drinking heavily for an average of 25 years, then sober for about five, and 20 nondrinkers.

She found the former drinkers had broad damage to the brain’s white matter, which connects the gray matter that supports brain function – notably in areas that support critical thinking and impulse control.

But she says:

“If you succeed and are able to stop, whatever cognitive difficulties could get better with maintained abstinence.”

The study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

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