Long after the buzz has gone, and even after the resulting hangover has cleared, a bout of binge drinking will leave your metabolism in a deeply disturbed state, which may be why binge drinkers -- even occasional ones -- are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (or its precursor, metabolic syndrome) than nondrinkers or those who drink more moderately.
A new study, conducted on rats, suggests that binge drinking disrupts metabolism not by poisoning the liver but by inflaming the brain's hypothalamus, which conducts the symphony of signals necessary for proper metabolic function. The research was published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Binge drinking -- defined as reaching a blood alcohol level of .08% in a period of two hours or less -- is a widespread practice among teens and young adults. But it's not uncommon in older people too. A recent survey of elderly and middle-aged adults found that 20% of men and 6% of women engage in this form of heavy drinking.
Calculate here how many drinks would constitute binge drinking for you.
While the metabolic disturbance that comes with this kind of alcohol consumption occurs in both men and women, the study found that even at alcohol consumption levels that were lower, female rats exhibited higher levels of insulin resistance. That's bad news for adolescent and young adult female humans, who are engaging in binge drinking at an accelerating rate.