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2013 Keystone Diabetes Symposium

October 2013

By Ben Best

Binge Drinking and Type II Diabetes


Christoph Buettner, MD, PhD (Director, Laboratory for Metabolism and Diabetes, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, New York) was inspired by human epidemiological evidence that binge drinking leads to chronic insulin resistance or diabetes55-57 to investigate the molecular mechanisms in rats. He found that ethanol dosing in rats that simulates human binge drinking is toxic to the hypothalamus, and thereby induces insulin resistance. 58 Short-term insulin resistance lasts for days after all the ethanol has been metabolized.58 Dr. Buettner is concerned that binge drinking continues to increase among college students.59 Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to brain damage from binge drinking. 60


I had made it a priority to attempt to gain from this conference an understanding of the mechanism by which insulin resistance is induced. I was surprised that opinions on this subject could be so different, but I believe that some of the reason for the divergence of views is that there is more than one mechanism involved. In particular, I think that in some cases inflammation can induce insulin resistance, whereas in other cases fat directly impedes cell signaling between the insulin receptor and the glucose transporter.

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