Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cheers! (I think.)

I fear that my brain may be shrinking, and there may not, in fact, be much of it left.

A recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed a study that has found that over time, drinking alcohol has contributed to decreased brain volume.

Yikes! So all those Super Bowl Sundays, all those summer holiday weekends up north, all those...Thursdays and Tuesdays and Fridays and Mondays, are whittling away the big squishy mass of knowledge in my noggin.

The study raises an interesting debate as to whether drinking may be good for the heart, but not so good for the brain.

I wish I could say that it’ll make me stop and think *ahem* the next time I crack a beer if that act means I’ll be losing some nugget of information I learned back in elementary school.

Just to be sure, on Memorial Day weekend, I might have to make a toast with each beer I open, pausing to say, “Goodbye, multiplication tables. It’s been good to know you, 9x7.” That’s why calculators are so readily available on all of today’s computers, though, right?

But what if those beers or glasses of wine erase some of the things you didn’t want to remember anyway: old girlfriends, bad football seasons, uninspiring presidential administrations. Perhaps there’s an up side to this drinking thing after all!

To be fair, the study specifies that it did not measure if decreased brain volume meant a decrease in cognitive function. So it’s possible that all of the information up there now could still be there after you go on a weekend bender or pay a visit to a kegger at your local frat house.

Besides, isn’t there another study that says that most humans only use a tiny percentage of their brains, anyway? Alcohol’s not that smart...if it’s going to obliterate some brain cells, it’d probably go after the vacant ones first.

Ann Helms, an assistant professor of neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, read the study and had a much harsher stance on what may or may not be acceptable. “There is no safe level of alcohol when it comes to loss of brain volume,” she said. “If you are worried about cognitive function, you shouldn’t drink anything.”

Not too much wiggle room there. If a statement like that doesn’t make you want to belly up to the bar to drown your sorrows while considering the harm of all the binge drinking you did in the past, then the brain cells that held your binge drinking memories have already been killed off anyway.

Some of us will have to either change our weekend ways, or change our opinions on the importance of cognitive function.

I, for one, would rather have a drink or two to help my heart and run the risk of forgetting how many planets there are in our solar system. (Nine, right? No, eight. No...yeah...eight. I think.)

I just don’t see myself canceling out of too many summer barbecues or concerts or ball games in the hope of saving my brain cells.

Doesn’t Google give us everything we need to know, anyway?

"I have taken more out of alcohol
than alcohol has taken out of me.”
—Winston Churchill


  1. I'll take that as a subtle hint that I've been gone a bit too long.

    I entry will be posted tonight. This is the one that I was going to post last night, and the day before I left for the weekend, and two days after it actually happened, get the idea.

    I miss my blog, but it's been sooo easy to ignore it lately, too.