In a study on the effects of repeat binge drinking, researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine discovered that female rats who were equal age and weight than male rats were more sensitive to alcohol and experienced alcoholic liver injury at a higher rate than male rats.
“Some chronic drinkers can drink for several years and still live relatively healthy lives,” said Shivendra Shukla, PhD, Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professor of medical pharmacology and physiology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. “But many chronic drinkers are susceptible to liver damage when they binge drink. The liver is the metabolic powerhouse of the body and liver injury can compound damage to other organs. We studied the similarities and differences of gender-specific responses to repeat binge drinking. Our research showed just three binge drinking episodes triggered a response for more injury in the female rats.”
For the study, published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, female and male rats were given the same amount of alcohol three times at 12-hour intervals. Then blood and liver tissues were analysed four hours after the last binge episode. Blood alcohol concentration was twice in the female rats, but not all damage in males and females reflected that ratio. Shukla discovered the female rats had nearly 4 times as much fatty build-up in the liver, a trigger for additional inflammation and damage.
“There’s a protein called diacylglycerol kinase-alpha (DGKa) that has been shown in other studies to promote tumor growth and cancer,” Shukla said. “In our findings, this protein goes up 20% in male rats, but increases 95% in females. However, any role this protein plays in alcohol-induced breast cancer is unknown and remains to be investigated in the future.”
Additional studies in humans are needed to further understand the potential differences in how binge drinking affects males and females, and the metabolic causes for these differences, the researcher said.
“Unfortunately, alcohol has been glamorized,” Shukla said. “It is dangerous. Don’t binge drink. The research is very clear.”
Source: Science Daily