According to a new study published in the online journal Alcohol, binge drinking in young adults significantly disrupts the immune system. The study was conducted by researchers at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, in Maywood, Illinois. For the purpose of this project, researchers followed the definition established by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism which states that binge drinking is “drinking enough to reach or exceed a blood alcohol content of .08, the legal limit for driving.”
15 volunteers– eight women and seven men with a median age of 27–drank four or five shots of vodka according to their weight. 20 minutes following optimal intoxication, the subjects’ immune systems kicked into gear. Two and dive hours following peak intoxication the volunteers’ immune systems became less active than when the subjects had been sober.
Study leader Majid Afshar, MD, reported that a third of trauma patients have alcohol in their systems. More importantly, unlike burns, car accidents, falls, gunshot wounds and numerous other traumatic injuries connected to heavy drinking, their study demonstrates a potentially damaging effect of binge drinking that isn’t generally acknowledged. .
Binge drinking does more than increase the odds of receiving a traumatic injury. It is said to also impair the body’s natural ability to recoup from said injuries.
For example, prior research projects have revealed that binge drinking retards the healing of wounds raises the rate of blood loss and increases a drinker’s likelihood to develop both pneumonia and infections from catheters. Furthermore, binge drinking can also make one more likely to die due to traumatic injuries.
Elizabeth Kovacs, PhD, co-author of the study and director of Loyola’s Alcohol Research Program, concluded that drinkers usually understand how binge drinking changes behavior but noted “there is less awareness of alcohol’s harmful effects in other areas, such as the immune system.”
Binge Drinking Disrupts Immune System