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05 Sep 2017

Men, beware! Binge drinking more risky for men than women

Binge drinking affects men more than women

While the general perception is that binge drinking affects women more than men, researchers say that the opposite is true.

Binge drinking alters brain functioning in youngsters aged 23-28, especially in men in their early 20s.

However, the changes due to long-term alcohol use are different in men and women.

Heavy drinking men are more susceptible to health hazards than women.

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In context

Binge drinking affects men more than women
Men's brain electrical functioning changes with long-term alcohol use

Brain Functioning

Men's brain electrical functioning changes with long-term alcohol use

Research led by Dr. Outi Kaarree from University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital in Finland found men are possibly at higher risk of long-term harm from binge drinking.

The researchers found more alterations (changes) in electrical activities of the brain in males than in females.

Their research was presented at the ongoing ECNP (European College of Neuropsychopharmacology) meeting in Paris.

Long-term alcohol use can be risky: Dr. Kaarre

Dr. Kaarre said: "It may be that we need to look at tightening regulations on youth drinking, since none of our study participants met the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorders and still these significant changes in brain functioning were found."

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How was the study conducted?

Researchers compared brain activity of 11 men and 16 women with heavy 10-year alcohol use with 12 men and 13 women with little/no alcohol use; all were aged 23-28.

Binge drinkers' brain response to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (brain stimulation by magnetic-pulses) that activates neurons was measured using EEG (electroencephalogram).

Men showed greater response, meaning their brain function was more affected by long-term alcohol use.

Researcher Dr. Kaarre's statement

"Alcohol causes more pronounced changes in both electrical and chemical neurotransmission in men than women. There are two types of GABA receptors, A and B. Long-term alcohol use affects neurotransmission through both types in males, but only one type, GABA-A, is affected in females."

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