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Infection response 'impaired by binge drinking'

18th September 2009

Binge drinking weakens the immune system for at least 24 hours, according to researchers from Mississippi and Louisiana state universities.

The results of the study on mice, which is published in the journal BMC Immunology, confirm theories that acute alcohol exposure prevents the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which respond to infection.

Authors suggest that ethanol molecules suppress the toll-like receptor 4 protein, which would normally trigger the cytokines' production.

Lead researcher Stephen Pruett, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University, warned that binge drinking increases the risk of infection.

He said: 'A persistent effect of ethanol on cells is indicated, such that inhibition of the response of some cytokines occurs even after the ethanol is cleared.'

Binge drinking has also been shown to impair attention and visual memory processes among university students, according to research published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Researchers found that drinking four or more standard alcoholic drinks within a two-hour interval can impact cognitive processes.

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