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Type 2 diabetes from binge drinking: How it could happen

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Heavy drinking over a few days could raise type 2 diabetes risk.

As type 2 diabetes rates continue to soar, researchers are gathering information about what we can do the help prevent new cases. In a new study conducted on rats, scientists have discovered binge drinking might be another contributor to the disease. The finding is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Research on animals can give insight into human diseases. Though the study doesn’t prove binge drinking can cause type 2 diabetes, it’s the first investigation conducted that shows repeated bouts of alcohol ingestion causes insulin resistance.

For their study, researchers gave rats alcohol for 3 days to simulate what happens in humans.

As a control another group of rats were given the same amount of calories, but not from alcohol.

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Until now, the suspicion was that binge drinkers might also binge on food, leading to obesity and higher risk for diabetes.

When the rat’s blood was clear of alcohol the researchers measured glucose metabolism using either glucose-tolerance tests or controlled-insulin infusions.

The results showed rats treated with alcohol had higher levels of circulating insulin that signals metabolic syndrome – a known contributor to type 2 diabetes.

The study shows for the first time that binge drinking could set the body up for type 2 diabetes from insulin resistance.

Science Translational Medicine
January 30, 2013

Image credit: Morguefile