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January 31, 2013

2 Min Read
Binge Drinking Raises Diabetes Risk

NEW YORKBinge drinking, defined as five drinks for males or four for females within a 2-hour time span, may cause insulin resistance, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers at the Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai conducted a study to investigate whether binge drinking impairs glucose homeostasis and insulin action. They found alcohol disrupts insulin-receptor signaling by causing inflammation in the hypothalamus area of the brain, and people who regularly binge drink even once a week, over many years, may remain in an insulin resistant state for an extended period of time.

For the study, the researchers treated rats with alcohol for three consecutive days to simulate human binge drinking. A control group received the same amount of calories. Once alcohol was no longer detectable in blood, glucose metabolism was studied through either glucose-tolerance tests or through controlled-insulin infusions. The rats treated with alcohol were found to have higher concentrations of plasma insulin than the control group, suggesting that insulin resistance may have been the cause of the impaired glucose tolerance.

High plasma insulin levels are a major component of the metabolic syndrome, 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. Our data show for the first time that binge drinking induces insulin resistance directly and can occur independent of differences in caloric intake," said Claudia Lindtner, M.D., first author of the study.

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