New study: a single episode of binge drinking can adversely affect health

An interesting discovery in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, reported by Science Daily. (H/T William B.)


It only takes one time. That’s the message of a new study by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School on binge drinking. Their research found that a single episode of binge drinking can have significant negative health effects resulting in bacteria leaking from the gut, leading to increased levels of toxins in the blood. Published online in PLOS ONE, the study showed that these bacterial toxins, called endotoxins, caused the body to produce immune cells involved 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.”

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.

Binge drinking is known to pose safety risks associated with car crashes and injuries. Over the long term, binge drinking can damage the liver and other organs, but this [study] is key evidence that a single alcohol binge can cause damaging health effects such as bacterial leakage from the gut into the blood stream, according to a statement released by George Koob, PhD, director of the NIAAA.

I’ve never been drunk, thank goodness – mostly because I like putting money into bank accounts more than giving it to other people for entertainment related products and services. Scheming works better with money, and I love to scheme and plan and achieve. Not only that, but drunkenness is forbidden in Gal 5:21 and Eph 5:18. So there is the Bible and the stewardship of money. Two good reasons to not drink excessively.

I made my way through high school and college without drinking once (except maybe Kahlua with milk, or something like that, at holidays with the family, I don’t remember). My first beer was when I graduated and had my first full-time job. It was the height of the dot-com bubble, we all had good jobs and were making money. So when we went out as a team, I had one beer with the team, and then they would feel comfortable talking to me about spiritual things. Since then, I’ve averaged about a beer a year. It’s just not something I can afford to spend money on regularly. You don’t get rich by spending money, and we all ought to be very worried about our future prosperity, at this point, given what’s going on in Washington.

I think my bigger concern though is that with non-Christians, I don’t let my guard down. I am always “on duty” and ready to answer their questions. Can’t afford to do anything that is going to compromise my ability to reason well and make good decisions in front of them. I know enough people who have had alcoholic parents or been harmed by alcohol that I find it easy to just avoid it completely. The tragedy of drunk driving is one of the things that really pushed me away from alcohol entirely when I was younger. The idea that some drunk person can kill or seriously injure an innocent person doesn’t sit well with me.

4 thoughts on “New study: a single episode of binge drinking can adversely affect health”

  1. Yep, it’s totally not worth it. I must point out that drinking and driving has exponential effects, not just with those involved in the incident. For example, my Mom’s parents were killed in a car wreck after being hit by a drunk driver when she was 12. She and most of her siblings were then passed around between family members until they came of age, and my (many) cousins and I never had the pleasure of knowing our grandparents. Again, it’s totally not worth it.


  2. How did you manage a social life without drinking? I don’t have a lot of fun being a DD and sitting in bars when you don’t drink makes you about as fun as being a wet blanket. All our schools social events are held in bars or have a bar as part of them…I feel isolated and have trouble finding a date. How did you manage it?


    1. I didn’t. I just mentored a very few promising Christians over racquetball courts, board games, pool tables and restaurant tables. I didn’t pursue fun or social groups for their own sake.


    2. Wanderlust, I drink a touch more than Wintery (say, a glass of wine a month) and like him have never been drunk and very rarely ever went out to a bar. I found my wife at my church college group, which never hit up bars for fun – we were likely to be watching Princess Bride or playing mini golf or hide and seek on the Capitol Grounds (I live in Austin, Texas) when we needed a study break. That meeting was almost 22 years ago now, coming up on 20 years of marriage.

      Church isn’t a be all end all for that. A lot of people meet their spouses at school or through friends, but in each of those cases (church, school and friends), you will know something more worthwhile about them than their alcohol capacity and looks as a jumping off point. I even know several people who met and became married through online gaming; in each case, they took years getting to know each other before they ever agreed to meet in person, let alone do anything more serious.
      The point being, it’s easier to make those kinds of connections in a group of like-minded people than at a bar.

      I wish you well. Hang in there. I know you feel isolated now, but it can get better.


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