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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Binge vs. daily drinking: Which is riskier?

It's common knowledge that alcohol causes damage to the liver, the organ primarily responsible for handling the toxin. The University of Missouri School of Medicine took a look at the damage caused by daily drinking versus the damage from binge drinking. Their November 2015 report published in the journal, Biomolecules, was significant considering the most common form of alcohol use or abuse in the U.S. is binge drinking. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports approximately one in six adults binge drinks about four times each month.

The researchers at Mizzou concluded that daily alcohol use and repeat binge episodes caused moderate liver damage when compared to a control group not exposed to alcohol. “This outcome came as no surprise,” say the researchers. “However, in the mice exposed to both chronic use and repeat binge episodes, liver damage increased tremendously.” Even more 'shocking' – in the researchers' own words – was the extent of fatty deposits in the livers of those exposed to chronic plus binge drinking. It was approximately 13 times higher than the control group.

The amped-up fat accumulation was in part caused by changes within the liver which not only increased fat deposits, but increased stress on the organ while decreasing the liver’s ability to fight the stress. Chronic and excessive alcohol use shouldn't be associated only with liver damage. Drinking alcohol excessively can create an inflammatory response to the liver and other organ systems in the body and when those organs work at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes can be affected including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and eight forms of cancer… all of which were covered in various prior episodes of The Sobriety :60+.

By way of background, both types of drinking on their own are going to do damage, but evidence-based studies disagree on which is worse. Long-term daily drinking, rather than weekly binge drinking, is by far the biggest risk factor in serious liver disease, according to a 2009 report from the University of Southampton. A 2011 University of Rochester study found binge drinking worse for the heart, increasing bad cholesterol and causing 60 percent more artery blockages than abstainers.

The new UM study says both produce ugly results on their own, but combining daily and weekly binge drinking is worse. If you're curious as to how long you have to drink in these patterns to do the damage or increase health risk, the answer is simple: Alcohol is a toxin and the damage begins with day one, drink one. How much damage? Less if you quit today, more if you wait until tomorrow.
Visit alcohologist.com for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on www.alcohologist.com. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today. Stevens also is the public relations officer with AddictedMinds.com and works with TheAddictionsAcademy as well.