Binge drinking can increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by causing insulin resistance, a new animal study has revealed.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, found that alcohol causes inflammation in the part of the brain that controls insulin regulation. This disrupts insulin-receptor signalling and results in the body becoming less sensitive to the insulin hormone – a condition that often develops into pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
For their research, a group of rats were fed alcohol for three consecutive days to mimic human binge drinking, while another group received the same amount of calories through food sources.
Once alcohol was no longer detectable in blood, the scientists found that the alcohol-treated group had higher concentrations of plasma insulin, indicating the presence of insulin resistance, which causes impaired glucose tolerance.
High plasma levels of insulin and glucose are a major component of metabolic syndrome – a group of risk factors such as obesity and insulin resistance that occur together and increase the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“Previously it was unclear whether binge drinking was associated with an increased risk for diabetes, since a person who binge drinks may also tend to binge eat, or at least eat too much,” said Claudia Lindtner, first author of the study.
“Our data shows for the first time that binge drinking induces insulin resistance directly and can occur independent of differences in caloric intake.”
The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine .

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