Healthy Living

Binge Drinking Just Once a Week May Raise Risk of Diabetes

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A new drug has been approved in Europe to lessen the desire to drink. Reuters

With obesity on the rise, type 2 diabetes has become a growing public health concern. As a result, fried foods, large sodas and even portion sizes have come under fire both by governments and private households. However, a recent study indicates that a surprising culprit may be to blame for the condition: binge drinking. While alcohol has been linked to weight gain in recent years, this study is the first time that researchers have laid the blame on binge drinking, in particular, for diabetes.

The study was conducted by researchers from Case Western Reserve University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Medical University of Vienna in Austria. The researchers treated rats to three days of alcohol, meaning that the rats would have been exposed to an amount of alcohol comparable to human binge-drinkers.

Then the rats' insulin levels were compared to a control group, who received the same amount of calories, because researchers had never been sure if an elevated risk of diabetes was the result of binge eating as well as binge drinking. Then, after alcohol traces disappeared from rats' blood, the researchers tested their glucose metabolism. The researchers found that the binge-drinking rats had greater amounts of insulin in their bloodstream, indicating insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a significant component of metabolic syndrome, which can elevate the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and stroke.

"Insulin resistance has emerged as a key metabolic defect leading to Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD)," Christoph Buettner, MD, PhD, senior author of the study, said in a statement. "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."

The World Health Organization reports that 347 million people in the world have diabetes. That number is set to increase as obesity rises.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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