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Single Drinking Binge Can Be Far From Harmless

Single Drinking Binge Can Be Far From HarmlessNew research suggests a single alcohol binge can have significant negative health effects.

Scientists from the University of Massachusetts Medical School discovered a single episode of binge drinking can result in bacteria leaking from the gut, leading to increased levels of toxins in the blood.

The study showed that these bacterial toxins, called endotoxins, can cause the body to produce immune cells involved in fever, inflammation, and tissue destruction.

“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, M.D., Ph.D.

“Our observations suggest that an alcohol binge is more dangerous than previously thought.”

Binge drinking is defined by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08g/dL or above.

For a typical adult, this corresponds with consuming five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in about two hours, depending on body weight.

Binge drinking is known to pose safety risks associated with car crashes and injuries.

Over the long term, binge drinking can damage the liver and other organs, but the new study presents key evidence that a single alcohol binge can cause damaging health effects such as bacterial leakage from the gut into the blood stream.

As discussed online in PLOS ONE, researchers assessed the impact of binge drinking by providing 11 men and 14 women enough alcohol to raise their blood alcohol levels to at least .08 g/dL within an hour.

Blood samples were then taken every 30 minutes for four hours after and again 24 hours later.

Szabo and colleagues found that the alcohol binge resulted in a rapid increase in endotoxin levels in the blood. Endotoxins are toxins contained in the cell wall of certain bacteria that are released when the cell is destroyed.

They also found evidence of bacterial DNA in the bloodstream, showing that bacteria had permeated the gut. Compared to men, women had higher blood alcohol levels and circulating endotoxin levels.

Earlier studies have tied chronic alcohol use to increased gut permeability, wherein potentially harmful products can travel through the intestinal wall and be carried to other parts of the body. Greater gut permeability and increased endotoxin levels have been linked to many of the health issues related to chronic drinking, including alcoholic liver disease.

Source: University of Massachusetts Medical School

 
Man drinking alcohol photo by shutterstock.

Single Drinking Binge Can Be Far From Harmless

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Single Drinking Binge Can Be Far From Harmless. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 9, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/16/single-drinking-binge-can-be-far-from-harmless/69917.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.