Binge drinking may cause lasting liver damage

Last Updated: May 02, 2013, 19:50 PM IST

Washington: Binge drinking may sensitise the liver and make it prone to lasting damage, researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, have warned.

Overconsumption of alcohol creates a different kind of liver damage that affects key organ functions, researchers said.

The study at the University of Missouri has revealed a unique connection between binge drinking and the risk for developing alcoholic liver disease and a variety of other health problems.

"In our research, we found that binge drinking has a profound effect on the liver in various modes of alcohol exposure," said Shivendra Shukla, Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and corresponding author of the study.

"No longer can we consider chronic alcohol consumption as the only factor in developing alcoholic liver disease," he said.

Shukla said it`s important to note there will be more liver injury in a chronic alcoholic if that person binge drinks, but a binge drinker may sensitise the liver over a longer period and make it prone to more damage.

Researchers studied the effects of binge drinking when coupled with chronic alcohol consumption and also in isolated cases of binge drinking not associated with chronic alcohol consumption.

In Missouri, binge drinking is on the rise. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking for women as having four or more drinks in two hours; for men, it is five or more drinks in two hours.

Through their study of alcohol exposure in rats, researchers in Shukla`s lab found binge drinking amplifies injury to the liver when there was pre-exposure due to chronic alcohol consumption.

"Binge drinking should not be associated with only liver damage," said Shukla, a professor of medical pharmacology and physiology.

"It creates an inflammatory response in the liver that is like a cluster bomb, sending out various damaging signals to systems in the body. If those organs are working at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes is affected," said Shukla.

The study was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.