Moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial for most people, but new research has revealed yet another downside to binge drinking: It causes insulin resistance, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The research, based on an animal study by the Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, also indicates alcohol causes inflammation in the brain that disrupts the body’s ability to process insulin.
“Insulin resistance has emerged as a key metabolic defect leading to type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease,” said Christoph Buettner, M.D., an associate professor of medicine who led the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine
. “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."
For the study, researchers plied laboratory rats with alcohol for three consecutive days to simulate human binge drinking and compared them to a similar group given no alcohol. They then studied the animals’ glucose metabolism and found the binge-drinking rats had higher concentrations of insulin in their blood than the others, suggesting that insulin resistance and impairments in their ability to process glucose.
High insulin levels are a major component of the metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart 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," said Claudia Lindtner, M.D., an associate researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine.
“Our data show for the first time that binge drinking induces insulin resistance directly and can occur independent of differences in caloric intake.”
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