We’ve all heard a slew of myths about our brain cells: what kills them, whether they regenerate, divide, grow back, and more. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have a limited supply of these neurons, but many factors do compete with neurogenesis and kill brain cells.

Growing up, everyone was told not to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana because it “kills brain cells,” and that was a legitimate reason to say ‘no.’ But these old wives’ tales about habits that destroy neurons are actually false, along with some others. Read on to learn about five things that do not, in fact, kill brain cells.

Drinking alcohol

Hearsay that alcohol kills brain cells dates all the way back to U.S. Prohibition, as Medical Daily has previously reported. Due to the effects of alcohol like slowed movement, slurred speech and silly actions, this rumor was widely accepted as fact. It wasn’t until 1993 that science was able to finally conclude that alcohol did not kill brain cells. Researchers compared the brain cells of alcoholics with non-drinkers and found no notable differences.


Your mom wasn’t always right. There is little evidence to suggest that any of the active ingredients in the marijuana plant have neurotoxic effects, according to Drug Policy. Some doctors even say that evidence indicates that marijuana does more good than harm when it comes to its effects on the adult brain.


Even though sneezing does slightly increase pressure in the skull, the tension is not long enough or hard enough to kill brain cells, according to neurologist Dr. Richard Koller on The Bulletin. In some types of stroke, increased pressure in the skull does cause significant brain cell damage, which is likely the source of the rumor.


Kava — a root found on South Pacific islands that, when consumed typically as a tea, produces a calming effect on the drinker — has been rumored to kill brain cells, similarly to the myths around alcohol. According to Kava Review, there is no evidence linking the natural product with brain cell damage.

Getting old

Most people think that the brain naturally deteriorates with age, but this simply isn’t true. As long as a person does not develop any cognitive disorders, like dementia or Alzheimer's, old people actually have better brains than younger humans, Cracked reported.

Read more:

Does Drinking Alcohol Actually Kill Brain Cells?

Smoking, Cocaine, And 3 Other Ways You Can Kill Your Brain Cells