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Healthy Cane Column

Oh college, it’s so fun. I get to drink, party AND destroy my liver! Millions of students each year get together and drink until they are holding onto the floor on which they think they are standing. Now getting there may be fun, but there are some serious consequences that you may not think about.

A recent study shows that students who binge drink are 21 times more likely to miss class, fall behind in school work, damage property, get hurt or injure someone else, engage in unplanned sexual activity, forget to use protection when having sex, get in trouble with campus police or drive a car after drinking.

Now most of us know that drinking can lead to a lot of the things listed above, but when was the last time you thought about what binge drinking does to your body?

Binge drinking can lead to several medical side effects that may affect you for the rest of your life. One such side effect is brain damage. Alcohol is a neurotoxin and when consumed in high quantities it can destroy brain cells. Studies show that drinkers have impaired memory and reasoning skills, and their hippocampus, the part of the brain that handles memory and learning, is about 10 percent smaller than non-drinkers’. And we all know how important memory is for things like school, work. and remembering who you hooked up with last night.

Alcohol is also a depressant. You think you’re having fun now, but when you wake up with that hangover and feel like nobody loves you, remember – you did that to yourself.

Another detrimental effect of binge drinking is alcohol poisoning. Severe intoxication causes lack of coordination, blurred or double vision, sometimes stupor and hypothermia, occasionally hypoglycemia, convulsions, depressed reflexes, respiratory depression, hypotension, coma and death. Prolonged binge drinking can cause damage to the esophagus, resulting in acute hemorrhage and acute gastritis, which may cause nausea, vomiting and acute pancreatitis. Other problems that may arise from long-term binge drinking are high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, breast cancer, oral cancer, skeletal muscle damage and decreased liver function. Binge drinking can also lead to a wide range of social, emotional and economic problems.

So the next time you try to do a naked, inverted keg stand then pound a water bottle full of orange flavored Smirnoff, think about what you’re doing to your body and your mind! You may not care now but when your having your stomach pumped or getting a sponge bath by some orderly named Ralf, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Ashleyann Gosselin may be contacted at a.gosselin@umiami.edu.

February 14, 2008

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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