The GuardianThe Guardian

The truth about booze: How alcohol really affects your body, from first flush of happiness to hangover hell

By Joel Snape

24 May 2023 · 9 min read

Editor's Note

Did you know that the first sip of your favorite drink can kick in almost as soon as it hits your mouth? The Guardian breaks down the science behind alcohol and how it affects our brains and bodies.

Birds do it, when they eat berries that have fermented in the first frost. Bees do it, when they suck on tree sap. Educated fleas don’t do it, obviously – but “many kinds of monkeys”, noted Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man, “have a strong taste for … spirituous liquors”. There is evidence that humans were brewing their own booze even before the wheel caught on, but how much do we know about how it works on our brains and bodies?

Well, quite a bit. Recent decades have seen dozens of studies validate some old sayings, debunk others, and give the medical establishment a much clearer understanding of how alcohol affects us and how much it is really OK to drink. Read on to find out.

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