Perhaps you’re looking forward to handing out treats to the little goblins and ghouls making their way through the neighborhood tonight…
All while keeping warm with some holiday-inspired spirits…
Like local pumpkin beer or a hot apple toddy.
And while I’m not opposed to drinking alcohol in moderation…
I do need to warn you that recurrent overindulgences (even on special occasions like Halloween) might lead to a scary diagnosis…
A slippery slope
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) has been in the medical news a lot recently. (That is, becoming intoxicated repeatedly, not just having a drink or two here and there.)
And according to a preliminary study, it may quicken the pace of Alzheimer’s disease progression among those with a genetic susceptibility to the disease.
This research took place in mice—now you know how I feel about animal studies. However, conducting this type of research on humans is unethical, so I believe we can learn a lot from these findings…
Researchers repeatedly exposed mice to levels of alcohol that mimics people with AUD over several months.
Ultimately, this negatively impacted their ability to learn and remember spatial patterns, compared to the control group.
Not only that, but the gene expression profiles of the alcohol-exposed mice were similar to those of older, cognitively impaired mice, rather than mice their own age.
In fact, these mice displayed signs of cognitive decline two months earlier than usual!
Plus, the drunken mice also showed signs of neuronal excitability, neurodegeneration, and inflammation. (There’s that “I” word again!)
These changes were observed in neurons AND in the cells that support the neurons—astrocytes, microglia and endothelial cells—which is a totally new finding. (Damaged neurons have always been implicated in the onset of this devastating disease.)
Heed this warning
Now, it’s not yet known how AUD affects mice (or humans, for that matter) who are NOT genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s.
But if you do have that genetic susceptibility, heed the researchers warning that frequent alcohol intoxication could ACCELERATE diagnosis and progression by a few months to a few years.
And even though this finding isn’t completely scientifically proven, it makes sense to me.
After all, alcohol tends to decrease one’s mental facility—it’s actually a downer that can disrupt chemicals in the brain and limit inhibition. So, repeatedly overindulging could impact how the brain works.
That’s why I always recommend drinking in moderation. I like to advise calling it quits after two (or any time you start feeling “buzzed,” which might be sooner than two).
P.S. It’s always my mission to help you mitigate disease risk by making better lifestyle choices more consistently. So, in addition to being mindful of alcohol intake, there are plenty of things you can do, starting TODAY, to help keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Learn more with my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan by clicking here now!
“Excessive alcohol consumption may accelerate Alzheimer’s disease progression.” EurekAlert!, 06/12/2023. (eurekalert.org/news-releases/992280)