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Binge Drinking Could Lead to Increased Chance of Infection

One can hardly argue that binge drinking is good for the body. It creates a significant hangover the next morning and ensures the individual consumes significant amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time. There is yet another risk to binge drinking that could have even more of an impact.

A study completed by Stephen Pruett, currently at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University, and Ruping Fan of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, found that binge drinking weakens the body’s ability to fight off infection for at least 24 hours after engaging in the activity.

Science Daily recently featured a release which summarized the findings of this study. In short, binge drinking – or consuming large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time to deliberately get drunk – inhibits the body’s production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are the signaling molecules that launch the inflammatory response to infection.

Study authors set out to compare the vivo and in vitro effects of alcohol on cytokines and TLR4. Their results confirm the assumption that acute alcohol exposure prevents the body from producing certain key pro-inflammatory cytokines. At the same time, ethanol molecules suppress TLR4’s usual ability to send signals that would trigger this production.

The effects of alcohol appeared to continue long after the party is over as some cytokines were still not at full performance to guard against infection 24 hours after the binge. "The time frame during which the risk of infection is increased might be at least 24 hours," said Pruett. "A persistent effect of ethanol on cells is indicated, such that inhibition of the response of some cytokines occurs even after the ethanol is cleared."

Posted on September 23rd, 2009
Posted in Binge Drinking

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