Can Binge Drinking Give You a Cold?

by Eliza Castile

As if you needed another reason to regret taking that fourth shot of tequila last night, recent research has shown that binge drinking messes with your immune system. It's almost like alcohol is a toxin to your body! Oh, wait...The study was conducted at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, where 15 dubiously lucky participants drank four or five shots of vodka depending on their body weight, which must have been fun to explain. ("Thanks for volunteering! Now we need you to get hammered as quickly as possible, and then we'll take blood samples periodically. Hooray for science!") Researchers took blood samples at 20 minutes, two hours, and five hours after peak intoxication, and the results were pretty clear. After 20 minutes, people's immune systems were actually more active than before, but at two and five hours, there was significantly less going on. Fewer immune response cells were in circulation, and there were higher levels of certain cytokines that tell your immune system to slow down. So not only does binge drinking end in sending embarrassing snapchats to everyone you know, including your ex, but it also could be the reason you got the sniffles after going out last week.

Binge drinking is all-around pretty terrible for you, a statement you may or may not vehemently agree with depending on how recently you went out. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six Americans binge drinks four times a month, and they're 14 times more likely to report driving under the influence. Even just one night of drinking can have harmful effects on your body. One night! If you went to college, where whether you like it or not, getting blackout drunk is practically a rite of passage, chances are you had way more than just one night of binge drinking.

Generally, people are very aware that alcohol affects you behaviorally, and that it's not great for your liver. However, as co-author of the study Dr. Elizabeth Kovacs points out, "there is less awareness of alcohol's harmful effects in other areas, such as the immune system." With only 15 participants, the study was pretty small, so more research needs to be done on the subject. In fact, lead author Dr. Majid Afshar is already planning a follow-up study comparing burn victims who arrive at the hospital with alcohol in their systems. But with all the other evidence showing how terrible binge drinking is for you, do you really need another reason to turn down that shot you know is a terrible idea? Fine, I'll give you one: hangovers.

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