Biomarkers higher in binge drinkers

July 23, 2015

A biomarker found in the blood of alcohol users is significantly higher in binge drinkers than in those who consume alcohol moderately, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The biomarker, called phosphatidylethanol (PEth), could be used to screen young adults for harmful or heavy drinking such as binge drinking.

Having performed extensive research on alcohol and its effects on health throughout her career, Mariann Piano, professor and head of the department of biobehavioral health science in the UIC College of Nursing, knew PEth is a biomarker associated with alcohol consumption, but it had never been measured in young adults.

"Binge drinking is pervasive on college campuses and among young adults," Piano said. "More alarming, though, is the regularity of binge drinking episodes: one in five students report three or more binge drinking episodes in the prior two weeks."

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or above. This typically occurs when men consume five or more drinks in about two hours. For women, it's consuming four or more drinks in the same time period.

Piano and co-investigator Shane Phillips, associate professor of physical therapy, measured PEth in blood samples from student participants at two large Midwestern university campuses. Participants were part of a larger ongoing study examining the cardiovascular effects of binge drinking.

Participants completed a 10-question self-assessment survey to determine their drinking patterns. After the questionnaires were reviewed, the subjects were divided into three groups: abstainers, moderate drinkers and binge drinkers.

Abstainers had not had more than one drink per month in the past two to three years. For men, moderate drinking was defined as consuming three drinks or less per sitting one to two times per week in the past five years. For women, the number of drinks was two. Binge drinkers must have had at least two episodes of heavy drinking in one sitting in the last month.

The majority of participants were Caucasian females. The majority of moderate and binge drinkers were Caucasian, while abstainers were predominantly Asian.

Following the self-assessment, blood was drawn from each participant to measure blood alcohol levels and PEth. Five blood spots were placed on cards to be dried and measured against the whole blood samples in an off-site drug testing laboratory.

"We discovered a significant correlation between PEth levels in both the whole blood and dried blood samples and the number of times subjects consumed four to five drinks in one sitting within the last 30 days," Piano said.

The PEth levels in the blood also positively correlated with the self-assessment survey scores, Piano said.

"Using a biomarker of heavy alcohol consumption such as PEth along with self-reporting could provide an objective measure for use in research, screening and treatment of hazardous alcohol use among young adults," she said.
-end-
Piano and Phillips were assisted by Stephanie Tiwari, department of biobehavioral health science, and Lauren Nevoral in the department of physical therapy, both of UIC. The research, published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, was funded through an Ignite Proposal Development Grant from UIC's Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Related Alcohol Consumption Articles from Brightsurf:

Excessive alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic
The full impact of COVID-19 on alcohol use is not yet known, but rates have been rising during the first few months of the pandemic.

Alcohol consumption rises sharply during pandemic shutdown
Anecdotal information has suggested that people are buying and consuming more alcohol during the pandemic shutdown.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

Sweet coolers a gateway to increased alcohol consumption
Sweetened alcoholic beverages can promote harmful alcohol consumption among teens, new University of Guelph research finds.

The influence of alcohol consumption among cohabitating partners
Research has linked a partner's or spouse's drinking with changes in alcohol-related behaviors, but few studies have considered only cohabiting relationships.

Does alcohol consumption have an effect on arthritis?
Several previous studies have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is linked with less severe disease and better quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a new Arthritis Care & Research study suggests that this might not be because drinking alcohol is beneficial.

Is alcohol consumption more helpful than harmful? It depends on your age
Studies of health effects of alcohol consumption may underestimate the risks of imbibing, particularly for younger people, according to a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer ignored by women most at risk
Middle aged women in Australia aren't getting the message about the proven link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, at a time when more are drinking while cancer rates in their age bracket are increasing, according to a new study.

How much is too much? Even moderate alcohol consumption is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation
Excessive alcohol consumption is an established risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF), but what are the effects of moderate and mild consumption on AF?

Moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with fewer hospitalizations
A study of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S.

Read More: Alcohol Consumption News and Alcohol Consumption Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.