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. The long term societal and health impact on binge drinking is well known. This study is the first to correlate on time exposure to significant adverse heath effects.
This study investigated the impact of binge drinking, by the Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where 11 men and 14 women were provided with 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. It was found that the alcohol binge resulted in a rapid increase of endotoxins in the blood level of the tested subjects. 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 resulting in the body producing an inflammatory immune response similar to those found 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, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, vice chair of the Department of Medicine and associate dean for clinical and translational sciences at UMMS. “Our observations suggest that an alcohol binge is more dangerous than previously thought.”
Previous studies have linked chronic alcohol use to increased gut permeability, resulting in potential harmful products traveling through the intestinal wall to be carried to other parts of the body.
Shashi Bala, Miguel Marcos, Arijeet Gattu, Donna Catalano, Gyongyi Szabo. Acute Binge Drinking Increases Serum Endotoxin and Bacterial DNA Levels in Healthy Individuals. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (5): e96864 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096864