There is plenty of speculation about how much a person can drink before it affects their health but now there may be some hard facts. A University of Massachusetts Medical School study found that even small binges can cause long term damage.
The study found that for women, a binge was classified as four or more drinks. For men it was five or more drinks. If this limit was exceeded, it often caused bacteria to leak from the gut which increased toxins in the blood.
Lead Researcher, Professor Gyongyi Szabo said, "We found that a single alcohol binge can elicit an immune response, potentially impacting the health of an otherwise healthy individual. Our observations suggest that an alcohol binge is more dangerous than previously thought."
The binge triggered an immune response in the blood releasing endotoxins. These tell the body to produce immune cells which are linked to fever, inflammation and tissue destruction.
The bacteria released in a single binge can use the blood stream to travel anywhere in the body and possibly cause long term health problems.
It is important to remember that the warnings in this study do not give people permission to drink up to 4 or 5 alcoholic drinks each night. That would still exceed the recommended weekly alcohol intake for both men and women. That type of thinking also ignores the vast differences between individuals.
Depending on a person’s size, body composition and metabolism, alcohol can have vastly different effects. Someone who is larger may feel they can drink more because of their size, but if much of their weight is fat or they do not produce alcohol destroying enzymes, they could still be putting their health at risk.
That means the best way to stay healthy and enjoy alcohol safely is to avoid binging and stick to the recommended daily allowance. Otherwise, even the occasional binge could catch up with you in the long run.
To learn more about alcohol addiction, check out the Life Works Alcohol Knowledge Centre.