New research unveils hidden mystery of pathogenesis of insulin- dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)
According to the reports of CDC, binge drinking is perhaps the most common pattern of alcohol consumption in most western countries and is strongly associated with metabolic issues like diabetes. With over 347 million Diabetics worldwide and an increasing trend in the emergence of new cases, the need of aggressive research in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus has become even more necessary.
Alcohol consumption is closely associated with the development of a number of other metabolic irregularities that include obesity, cancer, hypertension, gastric irritability and liver issues.
Researchers and physicians long believed that the development of metabolic issues in individuals is directly proportional to the frequency of alcohol intake; however, recent research, conducted by Claudia Lindtner, Thomas Scherer and associates, concluded that binge drinking (even once a week) is strongly associated with intense metabolic abnormalities and increases the risk of diabetes mellitus type 2 due to relative insulin resistance.
What is Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is defined by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as consumption of 5 or more drinks (by men) or 4 or more drinks by women that increases blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 g% or more in 2 hours.
Insulin Levels Remain High after Alcohol Consumption
To study the effect of alcohol, Claudia and associates exposed rats to high alcohol levels for 3 consecutive days. To rule out any bias in study, the control group of rats was given an equal amount of calories via food. Serial blood insulin levels were obtained in both groups and it was concluded that even after complete metabolism of alcohol (suggested by disappearance of alcohol metabolic products from the serum after 54 hours of binge drinking), the insulin levels remained high in rats exposed to alcohol as compared to control group.
Claudia and associates suggested that persistently high insulin levels are the result of impaired functioning of adipose tissue and liver as a result of toxic alcohol metabolic products. Insulin regulation of glucose and fatty acids is partially dependent on the nervous tissue signaling in the region of hypothalamus. High levels of alcohol seen after binge drinking affect insulin metabolism in hypothalamus of brain that in turn stimulate hepatic production of glucose and also impair fatty acid oxidation by adipose tissues.
This pretty much explains the high insulin levels seen even after normalization of serum alcohol level in rats. Persistently high insulin levels create a state of tissue resistance to insulin action and may lead to type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Binge Drinking May Cause Insulin Resistance
Christoph Buettner, associated with Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai suggested that individuals who binge drink just once a week for months may remain in an insulin resistant state for years ultimately developing diabetes mellitus type 2.
Research results and statistical evidence proposed by Claudia and her associates are a breakthrough in understanding the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus and role of insulin.
Another study presented by Sofia Carlsson in 2003 also suggested that moderate alcohol consumption is protective against diabetes mellitus when compared to high alcohol intake and binge drinking.
Research indicates that binge drinking is a psychological pattern and affected individuals may also exhibit other similar traits like binge eating, higher body mass index and low levels of physical activity; however, according to Claudia Lindtner, MD,
“Our data show for the first time that binge drinking induces insulin resistance directly and can occur independent of differences in caloric intake”.
It is extremely important to control the rising trend of binge drinking because:
- Almost one in every 6 adults report binge drinking about 4 times per month in United States and almost 70% alcohol consumers are above the age of 26 that caused a loss of about $223.5 billion in the year 2006.
- Men are twice as likely to binge drink when compared to women.
- Binge drinking is associated with organic, metabolic, nutritional, hormonal, physical and psychological abnormalities and largely associated with poor glycemic control in known diabetics.
C. Lindtner, T. Scherer, E. Zielinski, N. Filatova, M. Fasshauer, N. K. Tonks, M. Puchowicz, C. Buettner, Binge Drinking Induces Whole-Body Insulin Resistance by Impairing Hypothalamic Insulin Action. Sci. Transl. Med. 5, 170ra14 (2013).
National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIAAA council approves definition of binge drinking NIAAA Newsletter 2004; No. 3, p. 3.
Carlsson, S., Hammar, N., Grill, V., & Kaprio, J. (2003). Alcohol Consumption and the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes A 20-year follow-up of the Finnish Twin Cohort Study. Diabetes Care, 26(10), 2785-2790.