Binge Drinkers Have Higher Levels of Biomarkers: Detecting Alcohol Consumption

First Posted: Jul 26, 2015 02:27 PM EDT

It turns out that a biomarker may determine whether you're a binge drinker or not. Scientists have found that a particular biomarker is much higher in the blood of binge drinkers than those who consume alcohol moderately.

"Binge drinking is pervasive on college campuses and among young adults," said Mariann Piano, one of the researchers, in a news release. "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."

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration to .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 period.

In this latest study, 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. The researchers then drew blood from the volunteers to measure blood alcohol levels and PEth.

"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," said Piano. "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."

The findings are published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.

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