According to the NIH, nearly half of all college students who drink also consume alcohol through binge drinking.
Binge drinking is defined as drinking so much within about 2 hours that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reach 0.08g/dL. Depending on one's weight, for women, this generally occurs after about 4 drinks, and for men, after about 5.
Health experts have long known that over the long term, binge drinking can damage the liver and other organs.
However a new study recently published in PLOS ONE online found that it only takes one episode of binge drinking to produce leakage of bacteria from the gut leading to increased blood levels of toxins. These toxins then cause an inflammatory response that includes tissue damage.
Lead author Gyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, vice chair of the Department of Medicine and associate dean for clinical and translational sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and his research team found that while levels of these destructive toxins were high in the blood of the young men studied, they were even higher in the young women.
Bottom line: Even one episode of binge drinking can negatively affect otherwise healthy individuals. That's just more thing for parents to worry about when they send their children off to college this fall.