Binge drinking affects long-term memory: study

By Thane Burnett , reposted from
Here's another reason to cry into your fifth beer.
There may be a longer-term impact on Canadian youth who binge drink than just how crappy they feel in the morning.
It's likely robbing some of long-term memories, new research has found.
A just-released Spanish study says binge drinking impacts the brain's hippocampus region, which oversees memory and learning.
This comes at a time when Canada and other countries struggle with rising numbers of young drinkers who are drowning their systems with large amounts of alcohol over short periods.
Earlier this year, our nation's medical community raised the alarm bells on binge drinking in an editorial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
The definition of binging is five drinks or more for men during one sitting, and four drinks or more for women during the same time.
Almost one in 10 Canadians has matched those numbers -- especially teenagers and those in their early 20s.
In the January editorial, Canada's top medical publication called for a public strategy to educate drinkers and keep track of a problem that, for some countries, the CMAJ reports, involves 90% of men and 65% of women.
The fear is Canadian numbers may be increasing, as young drunks try to follow the lead of other inebri-nations.
In the past, experts have warned binge drinkers are twice as likely to have a heart attack, and may be prone to injury, violence and unsafe sex.
Now, scientists from Universidade de Santiago de Compostela in Spain, have found students who binge drink showed less ability to learn new verbal information afterward.
"In other words, binge drinking could affect (the) memory of young adults, which might affect their day-to-day lives," says researcher Marina Rodriguez Alvarez.
Their studies show binge drinking has a damaging impact on the hippocampus -- a small seahorse-shaped brain structure.
By dividing students into those who drink heavily and those who don't, they found those who liked to binge didn't absorb verbal information as easily as their peers. In fact, they needed more neural resources to perform memory tasks, which likely impacted their academic performance, notes Rodriguez Alvarez.
The test also allowed for other influences, including genetics and even pot use.
And it also concluded that women and men are equally affected when it comes to drinking to forget.

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