18 March 2008

Beer Isn't (Necessarily) Good for Your Brain

Joel: Is there any risk of brain damage?
Howard: Well, technically speaking, the operation is brain damage, but it's on a par with a night of heavy drinking. Nothing you'll miss.

I've noticed a few bloggers have linked to a recent report claiming that beer and spirits aren't as bad for your brain as wine is. I'll note that The Australian titles its article on it Beer better for brain, wine a worry, and another Australian news outlet -- The Courier Mail (I'll admit I don't know these guys) -- claims Beer is good for your Brain.

Ugh. The original journal article compared non-alcoholics to alcoholics, concluding that the hippocampi of the former are larger. Alcoholics were asked their preferred beverage, and those who said wine were worse off than those who said beer. Setting aside all the the caveats (any difference between teetotalers and casual drinkers? are there outside causes? is "preferred" the same as most consumed?), these are pretty awful headlines. The Independent (UK) is closer to the truth with Wine is worse for the brain than beer, research finds, but the Daily Mail goes off on its own with Wine is worse for brain than beer, scientists reveal in blow for women drinkers (women drink more wine than beer; I don't know if the actual research concluded anything about women vs. men).

The story doesn't seem to have been picked up by US news outlets, but I'll be curious how they play it.

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