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Social Boozing Blitzes the Brain

Posted - Apr. 15, 2004 at 8:40 a.m.



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Heavy social drinkers show the same pattern of brain damage as hospitalized alcoholics - enough to impair day-to-day functioning, researchers said yesterday.

Brain scans show clear damage, and tests of reading, balance and other functions show people who down more than 100 drinks a month have some problems, said the researchers from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and the University of California at San Francisco.

"The enrollment criterion for heavy drinkers was the consumption of more than an average of 100 alcoholic drinks per month for men over three years before the study [and 80 drinks for women]," wrote Dieter Meyerhoff and Peter Martin in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Measures of brain chemicals and structures showed some of the same damage among heavy drinkers as is seen in alcoholics who are in the hospital or treatment centers, they said.

"What our findings indicate is that brain damage is detectable in heavy drinkers who are not in treatment and function relatively well in the community," Meyerhoff said in a statement.Reuters

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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