Everyone seems to takes their cues on how alcohol affects the mind and body from an eclectic mix of knowledge: personal experience, pop culture, tall tales of long nights, the latest studies to make the news, and second-hand tips.
Lifehacker posted a good meta-article culled from a few reliable sources about the science of alcohol (and caffeine) and their effect on your brain and body when you drink, while you sleep, and when you get up; how it works differently on full stomachs, young women, some Asians, and aspirin takers.
From their article:
Your body sees alcohol as a poison, or at least as something it doesn’t actually want inside it. To fight back, and sober you up, humans have evolved to produce an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase.
That enzyme gets its shot at your alcohol when it attempts to pass through the stomach lining, and when it reaches your liver, primarily. On contact, it snatches a hydrogen atom off the ethanol molecules in your drink, rendering it into non-intoxicating acetaldehyde. Humans can then use aldehyde dehydrogenase as a kind of clean-up crew, breaking down the acetaldehyde that’s sometimes considered a cause of hangovers, along with dehydration.
Don’t fear though, it’s not all that egg-headed. The best thing I learned? Alcohol doesn’t “kill” brain cells… although it can make you feel brain-dead the next day.
Full story at Lifehacker.