Binge drinking is found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, warns study. "Insulin resistance has emerged as a key metabolic defect leading to Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD)," said Christoph Buettner, MD, PhD, senior author of the study and Associate Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease) at Mount Sinai.
"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," said Dr. Buettner.
Researchers in this study were able to show that it is alcohol's effect on the brain - specifically the hypothalamus, the area that controls metabolism - that makes the body less able to process insulin.
The study was conducted on a group of rats, some of which were given alcohol over a three-day period to mimic binge drinking, while others received the same amount of sugar calories from other food sources. The rats who drank alcohol were then found to have higher concentrations of plasma insulin, an indicator of metabolic syndrome, which increases one's risk for diabetes.
Researchers also identified inflammation occurring in the drinking rats' brains. When they inhibited the protein that causes inflammation in the hypothalamus, they were able to prevent insulin resistance.
Binge drinking is commonly defined as 4 drinks in a 2-hour span for women, or 5 for men.
The study was recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.