Here’s What Drinking Tonight Could Do To You

Illustrated by Gabriela Alford.
Big partiers may have more to worry about than a nasty hangover (although that's definitely a valid concern): New research suggests that just one night of binge drinking can disrupt your immune system.
In the small study, soon to be published in the journal Alcohol, researchers had 15 participants get intoxicated via vodka shots. Then, the researchers also took blood samples from the participants 20 minutes, two hours, and five hours after they'd gotten to a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.1%.
Looking at immune system markers in those samples (including white blood cells and cytokine protein messengers), their results showed that the participants' immune systems actually amped up at the 20-minute mark. But, after that, their immune system activity dropped below what it had been when the participants were sober.
Other research has shown a similar connection between binge drinking and an immune response, especially when it comes to hangovers. Some have even suggested that this inflammatory response could be (at least partly) responsible for the existence of hangovers in the first place.
When the immune system is suppressed like this, it's often harder for our bodies to recover from injuries — and we're potentially more susceptible to illnesses. With this in mind (and with flu activity ramping up), maybe take it easy on the champagne tonight if you haven't gotten your flu shot yet.

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