Hangovers Are Bad; A Depressed Immune System Is Worse

Holiday festivities are incomplete for many without alcohol. Others tend to drink in amounts which are way more than what is considered moderate. At the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, the researchers have tried to find binge drinking does to the body.

Binge drinking is most common in people aged 18 – 34. Around 1 in every six adults within the United States binge drink many times a month reports Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. According to the researchers, around one-third of trauma patients, who report to the emergency, have alcohol in their system. Trauma like burns, falls and even gunshot injuries are secondary to heavy drinking. Although people are well versed with the ill-effects of binge drinking, Elizabeth Kovacs, PhD, a co-author of the study said that “… There is less awareness of alcohol’s harmful effects in other areas, such as the immune system.”

Hence people should be aware of all the potential risks they are putting their body through with each bout of heavy drinking, not just physically but emotionally as well. As far as body goes, liver damage tops the list, followed by neuronal damage. And the list continues all the way to impaired wound healing and tissues repairing capabilities.

In the study led by Majid Afshar, M.D, 15 people participated. 7 of them were men and 8 were women. All of them had to drink vodka until they attained a blood alcohol level of 0.08 g/dL or above, which is considered above normal levels. Blood samples were taken before taking the vodka shots and twenty minutes after drinking. another set of sample was taken after two and five hours.

The results showed what the researchers term as a “biphasic immunologic response”; characterized by a pro-inflammatory state twenty minutes after ingestion of alcohol and a late anti-inflammatory state which lasted up to five hours. Which means that right after alcohol ingestion, the immune system starts up but after a while it gets depressed which is potentially harmful. An immune system which is not working could increase vulnerability to infections. Previous researchers have also shown that people who binge drink have poor wound healing, greater blood loss and increased risks of developing pneumonia, which can prove to be essentially fatal.

The study is was published in the online journal Alcohol.


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