When drinking goes beyond moderate, new health risks emerge. According to Medline Plus, binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks at one time, which is known to damage health and increase risk for accidents and injuries. A whopping 38 million adults in the U.S. binge drink, reports the Centers for Disease Control, about four times a month, with the largest number of drinks per binge being eight.
Years of binge drinking can pave the way to cancer, heart and liver disease, as well as pancreatitis. Such drinking, over time, can also slowly start to unravel a person’s life, disintegrating relationships with friends, with coworkers, and with loved ones at home.
As if those negative repercussions weren’t enough to dissuade someone from overindulging in the bubbly, a new study has found that binge drinking may also cause insulin resistance, thereby upping Type 2 diabetes risk, according to researchers who completed a recent lab study.
“Someone who binge drinks even once a week, over many years, may remain in an insulin resistant state for an extended period of time, potentially years,” said Christoph Buettner, MD, PhD, senior study author and associate professor of medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in a statement. And “insulin resistance has emerged as a key metabolic defect leading to Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease,” added Dr. Buettner.
Researchers treated rats with alcohol for three consecutive days (to mimic human binge drinking) or a non-alcoholic caloric equivalent, then examined glucose metabolism after alcohol was no longer detected in the blood stream. The alcohol-treated rats had higher concentrations of insulin compared to the control group. This suggested that insulin resistance may have caused the impaired glucose tolerance.
“Previously it was unclear whether binge drinking was associated with an increased risk for diabetes, since a person who binge drinks may also binge eat, or at least eat too much,” said Claudia Lindtner, MD, first author of the study and an associate researcher of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine, in a statement. “But our data show for the first time that binge drinking induces insulin resistance directly and can occur independent of differences in caloric intake.”
Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics, according to the CDC. If you are concerned about a loved one’s health, gently remind him or her that drinking in moderation is best. U.S. Dietary Guidelines on alcohol consumption recommend limiting to one drink daily for women, and two drinks daily for men.
How have You conversed with friends about drinking?