April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Researchers from the Metabolism Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital´s Icahn School of Medicine led a new animal study showing that binge drinking causes insulin resistance which, in turn, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, also discovered that alcohol disrupts insulin-receptor signaling by causing inflammation in the hypothalamus.
“Insulin resistance has emerged as a key metabolic defect leading to type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD),” said Christoph Buettner, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine. “Someone who regularly binge drinks even once a week, over many years, may remain in an insulin resistant state for an extended period of time, potentially years.”
The scientists treated a group of rats with alcohol for three consecutive days to simulate human binge drinking. A second control group received the same amount of calories from non-alcohol sources. They analyzed the rats´ glucose metabolism using either glucose-tolerance tests or controlled-insulin infusions once alcohol was no longer detectable in the rat’s blood.
The research team found that the rats in the alcohol-imbibing group had higher concentrations of plasma insulin than those in the control group. This suggests that insulin resistance may have been the cause of the impaired glucose tolerance.
High plasma insulin levels are of particular interest because they are a major component in metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and stroke.
“Previously it was unclear whether binge drinking was associated with an increased risk for diabetes, since a person who binge drinks may also tend to binge eat, or at least eat too much,” said Claudia Lindtner, MD, Associate Researcher of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease at the Icahn School of Medicine.
“Our data show for the first time that binge drinking induces insulin resistance directly and can occur independent of differences in caloric intake.”
The Icahn School of Medicine was established in 1968 and is currently one of the leading medical schools in the nation. Icahn is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service, with more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes. Icahn is ranked among the top 20 medical schools, both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report.