It was reported in the Daily Mail last month that a single episode of binge drinking significantly weakens and disrupts the body’s immune system, according to research.
Scientists gave four or five shots of vodka to 15 healthy male and female volunteers with an average age of 27. Blood tests after 20 minutes showed that their immune system initially ramped up.But the levels of infection-fighting white blood cells had plummeted when they tested them again after two hours and five hours, the journal Alcohol reports. There were also higher levels of a type of protein called cytokines that tell the immune system to become less active.
The researchers, from the University of Maryland and Loyola University, said that as well as increasing the risk of injuries, binge drinking impairs the body’s ability to heal afterwards. While it is well known that binge drinking alters behaviour, study co-author Elizabeth Kovacs said: ‘There is less awareness of alcohol’s harmful effects in other areas, such as the immune system.’ Previous studies have found that binge drinking delays wound healing, increases blood loss and makes us more prone to pneumonia and other infections.
Our immune systems are usually taking a battering in the winter anyway so why not give yours a rest and either remain or go alcohol free for some time? I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my health and have had very few colds and viruses since I stopped that are all signs to me that my immune system is recovering 🙂
Edited to add 4th May 2015:
Also according to Everyday Health, drinking too much will weaken your immune system because alcohol can “wear away the linings of your mouth and oesphagus, making it easier for viruses and bacteria to enter your body and for cold or flu to take over.”