Chronic alcohol use, when combined with repeated binge drinking, causes more damage to the liver than previously thought, says an Indian-origin researcher from University of Missouri-Columbia.
“Heavy binge drinking by those who habitually consume alcohol is the most common cause of liver damage in chronic alcoholic liver disease,” said Shivendra Shukla, Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professor of medical pharmacology and physiology
This causes large fatty deposits in the liver that ultimately impair the organ’s ability to function properly.
“However, we wanted to understand the mechanism that causes this damage and the extent of the harm. Our research focused on different forms of alcohol abuse and the results of those behaviours,” Shukla added.
Shukla’s team studied mice to examine the extent of liver injury caused by chronic alcohol use, repeat binge episodes and a combination of both.
During a four-week period, the team found that mice exposed to chronic alcohol use and repeated binge consumption exhibited the highest levels of liver damage.
“Either chronic alcohol use or acute repeat binge episodes caused moderate liver damage when compared to the control group not exposed to alcohol,” Shukla noted.
“Even more shocking was the extent of fatty deposits in the livers of those exposed to chronic plus binge alcohol. It was approximately 13 times higher than the control group,” he informed.
Shukla also pointed out that chronic and excessive alcohol use should not be associated only with liver damage.
“Drinking alcohol excessively can create an inflammatory response to the liver and other organ systems in the body,” Shukla noted.
If those organs work at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes can be affected.
“It is important for us to understand the extent of damage caused by alcohol abuse, which also can lead to other health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer,” said the authors.