A new study in rats explains the link between binge drinking and the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study finds binge drinking inflames the brain’s hypothalamus, which is involved in regulating the body’s metabolism.
Researchers gave male and female rats heavy doses of alcohol for three days. They then measured their insulin levels and conducted a glucose tolerance test, according to the Los Angeles Times. Eight hours after consuming alcohol, when it was no longer detectable in the blood, the rats showed impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, precursors to diabetes. These metabolic changes lasted for 30 hours after their last dose of alcohol, the article notes.
“Insulin resistance has emerged as a key metabolic defect leading to Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease,” researcher Christoph Buettner, MD, PhD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said in a news release. “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.”
Researcher Claudia Lindtner, MD, added, “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. Our data show for the first time that binge drinking induces insulin resistance directly and can occur independent of differences in caloric intake.”
The study appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
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