A Single Binge Drinking Episode Can Negatively Affect Your Health

binge drinkingA new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) has this message to share about binge drinking: It only takes one time.[1] Their research found that a single episode of binge drinking can have significant negative health effects.1 In fact, they found that it can result in bacteria leaking from the gut, leading to increased levels of toxins in the blood.1 These bacterial toxins, called endotoxins, cause the body to produce immune cells involved in fever, inflammation, and tissue destruction.1

“We found that a single alcohol binge can elicit an immune response, potentially impacting the health of an otherwise healthy individual,” said lead author Gyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and vice chair of the Department of Medicine at UMMS. “Our observations suggest that an alcohol binge is more dangerous than previously thought.”1

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration to 0.08g/dL or above.1 For men, this corresponds with consuming five or more drinks in two hours, and for women, four or more drinks in two hours. 1

Binge drinking poses many safety risks, including car crashes, injuries, and health damages.1 Over time, binge drinking can damage the liver and other organs.1 However, the new findings that a single alcohol binge can cause damaging health effects such as bacterial leakage from the gut into the bloodstream is startling.1

To assess the impact of binge drinking, 11 men and 14 women were given enough alcohol to raise their blood alcohol levels to at least 0.08g/dL within an hour.1 Blood samples were then taken every 30 minutes for four hours after, as well as 24 hours later.1

Szabo and colleagues found that alcohol binge resulted in a significant increase in endotoxin levels in the blood.1 Endotoxins are toxins that are contained in the cell wall of certain bacteria that are released when the cell is destroyed.1 The researchers also found evidence of bacterial DNA in the bloodstream, proving that bacteria had permeated the gut.1

Earlier studies have tied chronic alcohol use to increased gut permeability; however, this is the first one to find such to be true after a single binge drinking episode.1

[1] University of Massachusetts Medical School. (2014, May 15). Single episode of binge drinking can adversely affect health, according to new study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515132212.htm

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