Binge Drinking Increases Diabetes Risk

Binge Drinking Induces Whole-Body Insulin Resistance by Impairing Hypothalamic Insulin Action. By Claudia Lindtner and colleagues. Science Translational Medicine, 30 January 2013, page 170ra14

What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

People who binge drink—defined as 5 drinks or more over 2 hours for men or 4 in women—once a month have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than those who do not binge drink.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

The researchers wanted to see if—and how—binge drinking could cause type 2 diabetes.

Who was studied?

The study included a couple dozen laboratory rats.

How was the study done?

Researchers gave half the rats heavy doses of alcohol for 3 days, while the others stayed sober. They then tested the rats for insulin resistance.

What did the researchers find?

Even after the rats cleared the alcohol out of their systems, the rodents remained insulin resistant. The insulin resistance extended to the rats’ brains, triggered, the researchers think, by alcohol-induced inflammation.

What were the limitations of the study?

The study was done in rats, so the scientists don't know if the findings would extend to people.

What are the implications of the study?

Abstaining from binge drinking could help lower the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Last Reviewed: September 13, 2013
  • Last Edited: October 7, 2013