The Science (and Dangers) of Booze in Humans

The Science (and Dangers) of Booze in Humans


Ahhh, alcohol. It’s known to make people all around the
world feel a little more outgoing at dinners and dance parties. But the inside of your body sees alcohol as
a poison, and tries to get rid of it ASAP. Whatever your body can’t process right away
can end up in your brain, which affects how your cells interact with
each other and causes all those things that we associate with drunkenness. So it’s totally fine to have a beer or two
with your drinking-aged friends. But consistently drinking way too much alcohol
can get dangerous in the long run. When you take a sip of an alcoholic beverage,
the toxic stuff it contains ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream through
your stomach lining or small intestine. Your liver is responsible for filtering out
this ethanol and breaking it down, using enzymes and other peptides, so your
body can safely get rid of it. First it’s converted into acetaldehyde,
which is toxic too and probably a big reason for those nasty
hangovers. Then, another enzyme turns acetaldehyde into
acetate, which is harmless and eventually excreted
in urine. And your liver does its best to get rid of
all the ethanol you’re putting in your body. But if you keep refilling that wine glass,
it has trouble keeping up. So any excess ethanol circulates in your bloodstream
and eventually reaches your brain. Now, usually, foreign substances like bacteria
and toxins are kept out of your brain thanks to the blood-brain barrier, basically a filter made of specialized cells
and proteins. But it’s actually pretty easy for ethanol
to get in, because it’s attracted to fats, so it can pass through those fatty cell membranes. And once alcohol reaches the brain, it starts to mess with the signaling between
neurons – aka brain cells. The brain uses these chemicals called neurotransmitters
to send messages between cells. Two of the most important ones are γ-aminobutyric
acid, or GABA, and glutamate. GABA binds to specialized receptor proteins
and causes neurons to send fewer signals so scientists say it’s an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Glutamate, on the other hand, binds to receptors
and causes neurons to send more signals so it’s an excitatory neurotransmitter. Ethanol interferes with this signaling by
binding to both of these receptors, and changing the messages the neurons receive. Specifically, ethanol enhances GABA signaling
and reduces glutamate signaling, which means there’s more inhibitory signaling
and slower brain activity overall that’s why alcohol is considered a depressant. And its effects on different brain regions
can cause different symptoms of drunkenness. For example, alcohol reduces activity in the
cerebellum, which is responsible for motor coordination
– causing all of that stumbling. It also suppresses the areas of the brain
responsible for self-control and social inhibition, which makes us more outgoing, emotional, and
prone to risky decisions. These effects go away as your body continues
to process the ethanol. And as far as we know, there aren’t serious
risks to moderate alcohol consumption. But ethanol is a toxin. So if you keep downing drink after drink in
a short period of time, you can get alcohol poisoning – basically,
a shutdown of the medulla, which is the brain region that manages vital
life support functions, like your breathing and heart rate. And there are long-term dangers linked with
excessive amounts of alcohol consumption. You can get liver cirrhosis, or seriously
scar your liver tissue, because it gets damaged and doesn’t work
as well trying to process so much toxin for so long. Scientists also think a lot of ethanol in
your bloodstream can put stress on other tissues in your body, too leading to inflammation, interfering with
normal hormone levels, and making it harder for your cells to repair
their DNA all of which can increase the risk of developing
certain cancers. And even though alcohol doesn’t kill brain
cells, too much alcohol can also have long-term effects
on the brain. There’s some evidence that consistently
drinking alcohol as a young teenager can impact the growth and maintenance of connections
between neurons, sometimes leading to learning and memory problems. Alcoholism is a physical dependence on alcohol, characterized by cravings for booze and the
inability to stop drinking once you’ve started. Scientists also think too much ethanol in
the bloodstream over a long period of time could prevent our intestines from properly
absorbing thiamine, or vitamin B1, and make it harder for our livers to store
and use it, too. A thiamine deficiency can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff
Syndrome which is associated with the damage or shrinkage
of several brain regions, and causes a lot of problems in movement,
memory, and vision. So… a lot of really serious, unpleasant
stuff. Alcohol has a lot of effects on the human
body, and because it’s a toxin, drinking too much can lead to some serious
health concerns. But in moderation – around one or two drinks
per day – it’s considered to be fairly safe. So drink responsibly, friends. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
brought to you by our patrons on Patreon. If you want to help support this show, just
go to patreon.com/scishow. And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow
and subscribe!

39 thoughts on “The Science (and Dangers) of Booze in Humans

  • January 30, 2018 at 12:18 pm
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    My father had Wernicke's encephalopathy. People wonder why I don't drink.

    Reply
  • February 4, 2018 at 1:25 am
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    you said "1-2 drinks a day is ok…." what do you consider 1-2 drinks? 1-2 beers? 1-2 Manhattans?
    1-2 Faxe (which would be 1 Litre each)?

    Reply
  • February 21, 2018 at 5:59 pm
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    Pretty much why i dont drink ;p Plus.. i always prefer juices and milk lol. Its more tasty. I see zero point in drinking, plus its expensive too..;x

    Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 8:45 pm
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    shave your chin

    Reply
  • March 1, 2018 at 5:54 pm
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    0:34 Loool, Am I the only one who sees this, or does anybody else think it looks like a baloonanimal/dog?

    Reply
  • March 6, 2018 at 4:16 am
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    So how much is just the right amount?

    Reply
  • March 15, 2018 at 4:53 am
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    Just smoke weed

    Reply
  • April 26, 2018 at 5:44 am
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    Yesterday I asked a barman for a glass of merlot, and he missheard me and gave me a glass of milk. Now Michael, come with me for a drink I think if I get you drunk enough you'll say yes to a date with me 🙂

    Reply
  • May 6, 2018 at 5:57 pm
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    You emphasized ethanol is a poison and daily consumption puts you at risk for all the things you highlighted. Then ended with 'only drink 1-2 drinks a day'. So which is it?

    Reply
  • May 6, 2018 at 5:58 pm
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    So thankful I managed to unplug myself from the world of drinking and I do not drink anymore. Once a year, maybe. I had half a glass of wine at Christmas.

    Reply
  • May 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm
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    No comment on fetal alcohol syndrome?

    Reply
  • May 10, 2018 at 10:24 pm
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    I stopped drinking alcohol 3 years from now.. Best decision I have ever made

    Reply
  • May 12, 2018 at 7:11 pm
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    I am watching this while drunk

    Reply
  • May 13, 2018 at 9:17 pm
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    quite a couple years back now. Life is so much more beautiful. I'm more productive and happy person and I mean it didnt negatively effect me per day when I drink I could drink like a fish and thanks to my Irish blood never really had hangovers. However the positive effects from not drinking are just without number. Drink responsibly if you must but I dont like holding the skip button in life all the time anymore.

    Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 7:10 am
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    With 88,000 Alcohol Poisoning Deaths per Year (acute and chronic) those are EIGHT TIMES more than all Gun Homicides in the USA. The difference is, we could probably save a very substantial number of those Alcohol Poisoning if we put some effort into it. But, those Homicides will still likely occur if you …for example… ban 'assault' rifles. People will just be killed by other means. Remember according to the FBI-2106, there were 374 Rifle Homicides, but at the same time there were 1600 Knife Homicides.

    But none the less, there are 88,000 Alcohol Poisoning Deaths EVERY YEAR in the USA. That is a lot.

    Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 11:06 pm
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    It's why I'll never touch the stuff.

    Reply
  • May 17, 2018 at 9:37 pm
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    Why do various types of alcohols lead to different reactions from certain people?

    Reply
  • June 2, 2018 at 8:39 am
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    Ethanol is a fuel suitable for ICE's, do not drink. Ever.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2018 at 11:29 am
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    I'm drinking while watching this 😂

    Reply
  • August 6, 2018 at 9:14 am
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    But can any effects be permanent? or just always long term? PLEASE RESPOND

    Reply
  • August 15, 2018 at 7:46 am
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    Santiago, your comment is biased and based on childish ignorance. YES, the dose makes the poison, but the remainder of your comment indicates a bias that must be challenged.
    Search for CHASING THE SCREAM -and you might also look into modern drug policies as exist in more advanced nations, ignore the backward and self serving American model, which was the origin of drug law perversion in the first place.
    It is the fool that keeps raising his or her dose, but the reasons people do this is part of an ongoing exploration into human psychological behavior.
    People 'abuse' drugs because their lives are damaged, give them support and clean drugs and they WILL come out of it, pursuing a long proven to be failed drug prohibition policy is insane, literally, but great for those in the black market that influence political and perhaps your own thinking.
    Check out the lead provided above, then comment again if you like.
    Also, FYI, people do not only use drugs for ''fun'' or recreational purposes, although it may appear so. A great many people 'self medicate' which is a common term used to describe an illicit drug dependent person who uses drug/s to ameliorate a medical condition, knowingly or intuitively. This is not going to be 'best practice' by any means, but in such a world as we live in today, entirely appropriate and justifiable.
    Self medication also has many liabilities, like exclusion from some employment, say the police force if you smoked weed to relax after a tension ridden day (sounds like good advice lol).
    Almost every bit of contemporary mainstream info on drugs is biased and heavily distorted. You are literally surrounded by people on drugs every day; the bank manager you apply to for a loan is on coke, the estate agent you saw regarding a property is also snorting a little snow or maybe some amphetamines, the doctor you saw a few months ago self administers pure morphine, the police officer that calls out to tell you your husband is dead in a car accident or the judge you sat before over your divorce are both alcoholics, as are many others around you including the children school teachers who choose from coke or pot, alcohol and smack, the best teachers are on pot BTW.
    Your wife is 90% likely to be alcoholic and emotionally disturbed, which is to say perfectly normal… Most function normally and the only real problem is that their choices are illegal which makes procurement expensive, medically risky, physically risky and jeopardizes marriage, employment and such things. The laws do far more harm than the drugs, legalized or not.

    Santiago Trestini
    8 hours ago
    ''EuphAuric "In fact you build up a tolerance so quickly using something LSD that if you take the same dose 2 days in a row, you probably won't feel any effects."
    Doesn't that make them more dangerous? What makes cocaine so dangerous is the fact that you learn to tolerate it, which ends up in you taking a bigger dose and, fast-forward, end up overdosing. Making you better at tolerating the "fun effects" is not really a good thing as your body still takes the hit.
    The dose makes the poison, and having stuff that push to greater dosing is not a good thing.
    Although I'm open to the idea of their safety if you would kindly show some resources, if you don't mind''

    Reply
  • October 4, 2018 at 6:18 pm
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    What is worse for your overall health? 1 drink every day or 7 drinks over 1-2 days, but only once a week?

    Reply
  • October 8, 2018 at 6:37 am
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    Alcohol…..is very bad

    Reply
  • October 30, 2018 at 3:48 am
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    I quit I quit thank you! Now all I will drink is water!

    Reply
  • November 19, 2018 at 10:03 am
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    That does mean many cocktails push past moderate with being a combination of three drinks. 1 shot = 1 drink.

    Reply
  • December 6, 2018 at 8:26 pm
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    I got pancreatitis from drinking and I'm only in my early 20s. It is the most painful thing I've ever felt I thought I was going to die if I didn't get surgery. Thank God it was no where near that severe tho. Sober life here I come!!!

    Reply
  • January 11, 2019 at 3:25 am
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    , 1st , Alcohol is a very toxic drug which kills microorganisms , it has no place in the human body and the myth of safe alcohol drinking has been debunked now by recent study findings ,https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31310-2/fulltext
    but unfortunately that MYTH is still pushed around by mainstream media , and corporate special interest groups , there is no SAFE LEVEL of alcohol ingestion . please SciShow take a stand and stop the misinformation !!!!!!!

    Reply
  • January 14, 2019 at 1:52 am
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    BREAKING NEWS – Alcohol is harmful!
    Only took them till 2018 to figure this one out while we knew over 1439 years ago via the final Revelation from the All-Knowing Himself – Allaah.

    Read the verse below:

    يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا ۗ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْوَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّـهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ
    "They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit…Thus Allah (God) makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought." [Qur'an 2:219]

    Reply
  • March 14, 2019 at 8:20 pm
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    #nohanknowatch

    Reply
  • March 17, 2019 at 11:57 pm
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    Great video. Very informational.

    Reply
  • March 23, 2019 at 4:13 pm
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    Did someone say filling that wine glass??

    Why, thank you.

    Reply
  • March 27, 2019 at 8:59 am
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    Thank goodness I've never really been a drinker!. I used to drink the odd time but completely stopped as I am now on synthetic hormone treatment which is a no no when it comes to mixing with booze. It's a pity they don't label booze in the same way they label cigarette packs now. The dangers of alcohol are as bad, if not worse than smoking I think.✌

    Reply
  • April 18, 2019 at 5:51 pm
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    Thus, alcohol is haraam kids..!

    Reply
  • September 11, 2019 at 8:16 pm
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    3 days sober!!!

    Reply
  • October 26, 2019 at 4:11 am
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    that's why alcohol is harm in Islam, means is not allowed. it is sin.

    Reply
  • October 29, 2019 at 7:10 am
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    I got drunk 2 days in a row. I didn't find the experience enjoyable and don't know why people drink so much. A cold beer on a hot summer's day is nice, as is some tasty Canadian whisky, but I don't know why people drink just because it is alcohol.

    Reply
  • December 13, 2019 at 9:14 am
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    A bottle of wine a day… isn't enough

    Reply
  • December 24, 2019 at 7:13 am
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    im drunk lol

    Reply
  • January 6, 2020 at 4:48 pm
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    Horrible. Drug alcohol quit last year feel much better now only smoke weed now 1 or 2 ounces a week no hangover now

    Reply
  • January 24, 2020 at 7:29 am
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    A friend of mine, only 31, dies from addiction to drinking half a gallon of hard liquor per day, he did not want to quit in fear of withdrawal, he left his wife as a widow, liver shut down and he died…if you are suffering with this, please do not do so in quiet, seek help, preferable and person that really loves Jesus, that can pray and help you find someone and medical assistance. Do not do this alone, your life may be at stake. Do not be afraid, seek help immediately. I pray for anyone struggling, may The Lord help You overcome this wicked addiction, no, you are not wicked, but the alcohol is and is a spirit, that you need help to overcome. God bless you.

    Reply

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