The medical community and indeed good common-sense all unanimously agree that binge drinking is detrimental to human health. However, a startling new report published in Biomolecules reveals binge drinking could be significantly worse for our health than was previously thought. According to the report, these health risks include life-threatening conditions such as liver damage.
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says binge drinking occurs when five or more alcoholic drinks are consumed for men, and four or more drinks for women. However, due to each individual having a completely different tolerance, this may vary.
The Rise of Global Binge Drinking
Over the last decade, binge drinking has grown to be the World’s most prolific global public health issue. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America estimates one in six adult Americans engage in binge drinking at least once a week. Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, this represent 5.3 % of all deaths.
Binge Drinking: a ‘common cause’ of Liver Damage
Speaking exclusively to Ocean Recovery Centre, Professor Shukla of the University of Missouri and the report’s author said: ‘Heavy binge drinking by those who habitually consume alcohol is the most common cause of liver damage in chronic alcoholic liver disease.’
‘We know that this behaviour causes large fatty deposits in the liver that ultimately impair the organ’s ability to function properly.’
‘However, we wanted to understand the mechanism that causes this damage and the extent of the harm. Our research focused on different forms of alcohol abuse and the results of those behaviours.’
The report observed the effects alcohol consumption on the livers of mice. Mice were subjected to repeat ‘binge episodes’ over a month long period. Half of the mice were exposed to what the report describes as ‘chronic alcohol use’. The other half were only exposed to episodes of binge drinking.
The mice exposed to chronic alcohol use and binge drinking experienced the most amount of liver damage. However, mice only exposed to episodes of binge drinking also experienced liver damage.
Professor Shukla said: ‘Either chronic alcohol use, or acute repeat binge episodes caused moderate liver damage when compared to the control group not exposed to alcohol.
‘This outcome came as no surprise. However, in the mice exposed to both chronic use and repeat binge episodes, liver damage increased tremendously.’
‘Even more shocking was the extent of fatty deposits in the livers of those exposed to chronic plus binge alcohol. It was approximately 13 times higher than the control group.’
The Science of Liver Damage
Alcohol consumption is thought to alter metabolic pathways in the liver. This leads to the accumulation of fatty deposits in the liver. This build up of fat exerts unnecessary stress on the liver. This stress weakens the liver’s ability to detoxify metabolites found in the blood.
A weakened liver opens the door to a multitude of health woes. These woes include cardiovascular disease, cancer and type II diabetes. Click here to watch an informative documentary by the BBC on the health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
A Global Epidemic
Over two million people die each year due to alcoholism and alcohol-related injuries. About 76% of those who die from alcohol poisoning are men. In the UK, in 2016 there were 9,214 alcohol-related deaths. In England and Wales, 63% of all deaths relating to the misuse of alcohol in 2016 were caused by alcohol liver disease.
Ocean Recovery Centre offers lifesaving alcohol treatment in the North West and South East of England. To find out more about our services including our alcohol rehab or alcohol detoxing programmes, get in touch with our team today.