Negative effects of alcohol


Alcohol consumption has several negative effects on the body and brain, as discussed by in the . Here are some key points regarding its detrimental impact:

  1. Hormone Disruption: Alcohol increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, which can lead to negative effects in both males and females, such as decreased sex drive, increased fat storage, and for men, potential breast tissue growth. Regular intake of alcohol can increase estrogen levels due to the aromatization process 1.

  2. Effect on the Brain: Alcohol passes through the blood-brain barrier and suppresses the activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex, leading to impulsive behavior and a decrease in the suppression of such behavior. This can result in increased volume in people's voices at social gatherings, reduced voice modulation, and more spontaneous actions like dancing. Alcohol also strongly suppresses neural networks involved in memory formation and storage, causing forgetfulness 2.

  3. Cellular Toxin: stresses that alcohol is a toxin to the cells of the body, and there is no evidence that it provides benefits for cellular resilience. He suggests that zero alcohol consumption is better for health than even low to moderate consumption, which is better than high consumption 3.

    Alcohol's Effect on Hormones

    Andrew discusses the effects of alcohol on hormones, particularly testosterone and estrogen. Alcohol increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, which can lead to negative effects such as decreased sex drive and increased fat storage. Regular alcohol intake can increase estrogen levels, making it important to avoid excessive drinking.

    Huberman Lab

    What Alcohol Does to Your Body, Brain & Health | Huberman Lab Podcast #86
  4. Cancer Risk Increase: Alcohol, through its toxic metabolites like acetaldehyde, can alter DNA methylation and gene expression, significantly increasing cancer risk, particularly breast cancer. For example, for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed, there’s an estimated 4 to 13% increase in the risk of breast cancer 4.

  5. Mental Effects: Alcohol alters mood circuitry by affecting serotonin dynamics, causing initial talkativeness and elevated mood followed by drops in serotonin levels. This often leads to further drinking in an attempt to regain the initial positive feelings. In chronic drinkers or those with genetic predispositions for alcoholism, this cycle is even more pronounced 5.

To combat some of the negative effects of alcohol, mentions the potential partial mitigation through consumption of nutrients like folate and B12, although these vitamins do not provide guaranteed protection against the increased cancer risk associated with alcohol 6.

It's important to note the evidence suggesting that occasional alcohol consumption (e.g., 1-2 drinks a month) is not likely to cause major health concerns for most people, provided they are not in the stage of brain development and do not have a high consumption pattern 7.