Caused by impact to the brain, such as from a car accident, patients can fall into a coma; suffer from irreversible damage that affects memory, attention and mobility; and in the worse cases, die. In a new study published by the Archives of Surgery, alcohol may protect the brain from trauma during an accident. However, what implications does this study have?
The study investigated 38,000 patients who suffered from traumatic brain injury between 2000 and 2005, and were hospitalized due to injuries. 38 percent of the patients had some alcohol in their blood—the study did not measure the amount of blood in each patient—which lowered their risk of dying from their injuries. When the number of deaths were compared, 9.7 percent of patients who had no blood alcohol levels died from injury to the brain. On the other hand, only 7.7 percent of patients who had ingested alcohol before the accident died from brain injury. While researchers are unsure of why alcohol protects the brain during a traumatic brain injury, it is thought that alcohol reduces the impact of catecholamines, which are released after a traumatic injury.
Alcohol Causing Injuries
Dr. Ali Salim from Ceders-Sinai Medical Center was quoted in the CNN article as saying: “This study really brings up more questions than it answers. It is a bad thing to say alcohol is good, especially since it's responsible for so many of these injuries. But our study suggests there may be some survival advantage for people with elevated [blood alcohol] levels.” The CNN article notes that 40 percent of car accidents are caused by alcohol. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Impaired Driving Fact Sheet:
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