May 2, 2013
Binge Drinking Could Have Long-Term Adverse Health Effects
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
A hangover might not be the only unfriendly reminder of a weekend of heavy alcohol consumption, according to a new University of Missouri study that has linked binge drinking with an increased risk of liver disease as well as a number of other potential health issues.
“In our research, we found that binge drinking has a profound effect on the liver in various modes of alcohol exposure,” Shivendra Shukla, corresponding author of the study and a professor of medical pharmacology and physiology at the university, said in a statement. “No longer can we consider chronic alcohol consumption as the only factor in developing alcoholic liver disease.”
While Shukla emphasizes that a chronic alcoholic is likely to suffer more damage to his or her liver than a weekend binge drinker, the binge drinker is in danger of sensitizing the liver over a long period of time. That could make the organ prone to more damage.
Shukla and his colleagues analyzed the effects of this kind of short-term heavy alcohol use when paired with chronic consumption of the products, as well as in isolated cases of binge drinking not linked to chronic alcohol consumption. While their study focused on alcohol exposure in rats, the researchers discovered that binge drinking “amplifies” liver damage previously coupled with chronic alcohol consumption.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in two hours for men, and four or more drinks in that same period of time for women. Approximately 29 percent of all females and 43 percent of all males reported having participated in a minimum of one binge-drinking episode over the course of a 12 month period.
“As the main metabolic site for the body, the liver affects many systems in the body, including nutrient and drug metabolism and distribution, as well as the production of multiple agents that are needed for the heart, kidney, blood vessels and brain to function properly,” the university explained.
“Binge drinking should not be associated with only liver damage,” added Shukla. “It creates an inflammatory response in the liver that is like a cluster bomb, sending out various damaging signals to systems in the body. If those organs are working at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes is affected.”
Study findings are detailed in the latest issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.