Sobering thought! Binging drinking on your 21st birthday causes the part of your brain responsible for communication between the left and right hemispheres to SHRINK and there are no signs of recovery five weeks afterwards, experts find 

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  • The study used brain scans of 52 college students to look at the effects of binge drinking before and after their 21st birthdays.
  • Twenty-one is the legal drinking age in the US and many young adults become intoxicated
  • Scans after his 21st birthday showed that the brain’s corpus callosum, the largest structure in the white matter, had shrunk
  • This part is responsible for communication between the cerebral hemispheres.
  • Scans were done five weeks later and they showed no signs of recovery

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Brain scans of Americans after a night of legal drinking on their 21st birthday reveal the dangers of binge drinking.

Days after celebrating the right to pass, scans of the brains of college students showed that the largest white matter structure, which is responsible for communication between the left and right brain hemispheres, had shrunk.

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Scientists performed scans on many of the participants five weeks later and saw no signs that this area, also known as the corpus callosum, was on its way to recovery.

The researchers wrote in the study published in the journal, ‘The results of this study suggest that a single excessive drinking episode is sufficient to change the brain size of emerging adults a few days after the drinking event. Alcohol Clinical Experimental Research.

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Brain scans of Americans after a night of legal drinking on their 21st birthday reveal dangers of binge drinking

Many Americans count down the days until they are able to legally consume alcohol, but because of the excitement of the day, most end up going overboard with alcohol.

A separate study in 2008 34 percent of men and 24 percent of women reported consuming 21 drinks or more on the particular day.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have delved deeper into the issue and found that one night of excessive drinking actually has an effect on the brain.

The team recruited 52 students for the study, all of whom had an MRI scan 11 days before their 21st birthday, another about four days later, and some took part in a third scan five weeks later.

Participants' brains were scanned prior to drinking on their 21st birthday (pictured)

Participants’ brains were scanned prior to drinking on their 21st birthday (pictured)

Days after scans of the brains of college students celebrating the right of passage (pictured) showed the largest white matter structure, which is responsible for communication between the left and right brain hemispheres, had shrunk

Days after scans of the brains of college students celebrating the right of passage (pictured) showed the largest white matter structure, which is responsible for communication between the left and right brain hemispheres, had shrunk

The researchers used a drink-by-drink reconstruction to estimate the participants’ peak blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) during the ceremony and identify who had experienced an alcohol-induced blackout.

On each of their birthdays, students were reported to have an average BAC of 0.23 – more than three times the legal driving limit.

Five weeks later MRI scans of 29 participants did not reveal further structural atrophy or recovery in the corpus callosum.

Scientists performed scans on many of the participants five weeks later and saw no signs that this area, also known as the corpus callosum, was on its way to recovery.

Scientists performed scans on many of the participants five weeks later and saw no signs that this area, also known as the corpus callosum, was on its way to recovery.

However, the researchers note that this may be due to the small number of participants.

The team also noted that their study did not detect alcohol-related damage to other brain regions known to be vulnerable, including the hippocampus, which has a major role in learning and memory.

define binge drinking

Binge drinking is defined as a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.8 or higher.

This usually happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

Binge drinking is most common among adults aged 18–34, but more than half of total binge drinking is consumed by people aged 35 and older.

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The authors wrote in the study, ‘We found evidence that an episode of excessive drinking was associated with structural changes soon after birth.

‘Specifically, higher twenty-first birthday estimates were associated with a decreased volume of posterior and central corpus callosum, which was observed immediately after birthday.

‘At 5 weeks after the celebration of the twenty-first birthday, it was not associated with an episode of excessive drinking and structural changes, or recovery.’

However, binge drinking has increased in the US over the past few years, federal health officials said in 2020.

While the overall rate of binge drinking fell from 18.9 percent in 2011 to 18.0 percent in 2017, the number of actual drinkers increased.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average number of people who drank alcohol during benders increased from 472 in 2011 to 529 in 2017.

For the report, the CDC looked at self-reported data from binge drinkers between 2011 and 2017 from the agency’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Binge drinking was defined as men who drank five or more drinks at a time and women who drank four or more drinks.

The report found that adults aged 35 to 44 had the greatest increase in the number of drinks consumed during a meeting.

Binge drinkers consumed an average of 593 drinks during binge episodes in 2017 — an increase of more than 25 percent over 2011.

Those aged 45 to 64 increased 23 percent from 428 in 2011 to 527 in 2017.

The CDC report showed that binge drinking rates increased as education levels decreased.

2017 saw the biggest increase among adults without a high school degree, with 942 drinks per capita, up from 646 in 2011.

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