Study: Moderate drinking boosts immune system

Older adults should have no more than three drinks on any day and no more than seven drinks per week. This is because alcohol can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections. The immune system is made up of several different kinds of cells and proteins, each with specific functions in regulating human health. Excessive drinking may impair the function of immune cells in the lungs and upper respiratory system, leading to increased risk for pneumonia, tuberculosis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. The inferior natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D), TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, and IFN-γ expressions on NK cells from ethanol-fed mice resulted in attenuated cytotoxicity against HSCs.

She said people may not realise drinking or drug-taking was: Alcohol and other drugs affect your liver the most. Kumagi T, Akbar F, Horiike N, Onji M. The increased miR-155 further facilitates alcohol-induced production of TNF-α via enhancing mRNA stability (31). Again, this is happening because of alcohol’s effect on the specific cells responsible for the body’s immune response. ” This was achieved by downing up to five shots of vodka within 20 minutes. 8 tips to keep your im. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the body, and once it enters the blood stream, it quickly makes its way to the brain.

HIV-negative individuals who received treatment at the clinic were also recruited for the study’s control group.

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In addition, researchers discourage people from beginning to drink just for the health benefits. It can cause the heart to become weak (cardiomyopathy) and have an irregular beat pattern (arrhythmias). Accumulating clinical and experimental evidences have demonstrated that both innate and adaptive immunity are involved in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease (ALD), in which the role of immunity is to fuel the inflammation and to drive the progression of ALD.

  • In general, men reach this level after downing five or more drinks within two hours; for women the number is four.
  • The NIAAA has linked alcohol-related liver issues to auto-immune disorders, with the body attacking itself due to what the immune system perceives as a threat.
  • The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


TERT might be partially responsible for ethanol-mediated hepatic inflammation response and M1 macrophage polarization (24). The study suggested that this gene is the reason why some people are less likely to develop cancer in response to heavy drinking. Given the significant similarity between human and nonhuman primate physiologic and immunologic systems, these findings have a high translational value. Targeting these mediators might be an effective intervention for treating ALD. In another study, genetic disruption of E-selectin eradicated neutrophil infiltration, liver injury, and inflammation induced by chronic-binge ethanol treatment, suggesting its pivotal role in the pathogenesis of ALD at the early stage (43).

Lazero R, Wu R, Lee S, Zhu NL, Chen CL, French SW, et al. It should come as no surprise that washing your hands often, being fully vaccinated, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet are effective ways of protecting yourself against viruses and other germs. People who drink are also more likely to smoke, and the combination increases the risk significantly. High doses of alcohol suppress the ability of the white blood cells to multiply, inhibit the action of killer white cells on cancer cells, and lessen the ability of macrophages to produce tumor necrosis factors. To avoid getting HIV, it’s important to always have protected sex and be aware of your partner’s medical history. Compared with other study subjects, those drinkers were, according to Niclasen’s paper, more likely to exercise, less likely to drink cola, less likely to watch television and more likely to have a healthy pre-pregnancy BMI. Many people see these conditions as problems for the distant future. Research has shown that magnesium deficit in the body is connected to impaired immune function.

These targets, such as HDACs or H4K12ac, may be useful for uncovering novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of alcohol-induced damage and may delineate different potential immune-modulatory mechanisms. A glass a day may do little damage to your overall health. Co-culture of purified CD4+ T cells and CD11c+CD8α+ DCs derived from alcohol-fed mice exhibits reduced production of IL-6, IL-12, IL-17A, and IFN-γ and increased level of IL-13 cytokine in response to ovalbumin stimulation, indicating function alteration of this DCs subset by alcohol consumption (86). Introducing alcohol into the digestive system disrupts this balance and damages the cells that build a barrier between your gut and the rest of your body. • Arial fibrillation – In this form of arrhythmia, the heart’s upper, or atrial, chambers shudder weakly but do not contract.

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Each year, acute pancreatitis sends more than 200,000 Americans to the hospital. Natural killer T (70) cells are a subset of lymphocytes that express both a T-(TCR) and surface receptors for NK cells, which possess characteristics of innate and adaptive immunity. In the latter case, please turn on Javascript support in your web browser and reload this page. When bacteria leaks from the gut, it can come into contact with the immune system and trigger a strong and acute response. Alcohol depresses the cerebral cortex, the wrinkled and folded outermost layer of the brain that controls language and thinking, clouding your judgment and thinking. Alcohol decreases the absorption of a variety of nutrients in the small intestines, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. 17 in the journal Vaccine, not only opens a new window into scientific understanding of the immune system, it also could help scientists find new ways to improve the human body's ability to respond to vaccines and infections. In general, our vitamin D levels tend to be influenced by sun exposure, skin tone and latitude — people in northern areas who get less sun exposure in the winter typically have lower vitamin D.

Many of those who suffer from pancreatic problems are also heavy drinkers. People who consume too much alcohol may also be at risk for cancer. All of the animals had regular access to pure water, and to food.

The immune system will be at a high risk of being overrun with infection and disease and anecdotal evidence suggests that many people will have flu-like symptoms after a binge. Alcohol is also known to destroy thyroid cells, which are sometimes used in treatment of a condition called thyroid nodules (4). The pathways and molecules involved in the regulation of specific immune cells, and novel mediators protecting the liver from alcoholic injury via affecting these cells are particularly highlighted. One neurotransmitter particularly susceptible to even small amounts of alcohol is called glutamate. Zhang F, Little A, Zhang H. Increasing evidence suggests that light to moderate amounts of polyphenol-rich alcoholic beverages like wine or beer could have health benefits.


Inflammatory cytokines promote inflammation in the body and this is associated with illness or infection, meaning lack of sleep could potentially lead to greater risk of becoming sick. Supplementation of BHB displayed significant therapeutic effect on preventing alcoholic liver injury (130). First, it’s important to know that the microbes living in your intestines, your gut’s microbiome, plays an important role in fighting diseases. It stores energy and nutrients.

Furthermore, there is also evidence implicating the direct involvement of hormones in the gender differences observed regarding alcohol consumption. The role of telomerase reverse transcriptase (23) in macrophage regulation of ALD has been demonstrated by a recent research (24). Moreover, chronic alcohol feeding failed to sensitize MIF−/− mice to LPS, leading to the decreased chemokine production and monocyte recruitment into the liver (29). Snorting cocaine damages mucous membranes in the nose, throat, and lungs, which in turn can lead to upper respiratory infections or a susceptibility to these conditions. With a compromised immune system, chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much. It is, however, still unclear if ethanol-induced leakage of microbial antigens reprograms the bone marrow to influence hematopoiesis or acts on circulating immune cells. Abnormalities of peripheral blood T lymphocytes and natural killer cells in alcoholic hepatitis persist after a 3-month withdrawal period. Ways to boost your immune response and fight disease. On the one hand, researchers have known for centuries that excessive alcohol consumption can damage the heart.

But when you’ve ingested too much alcohol for your liver to process in a timely manner, the toxic substance begins to take its toll on your body, starting with your liver. Too much is bad for your heart. The hepatic expression of CCL2 was correlated with neutrophil infiltration and IL-8 expression, indicating that CCL2 might be implicated in the pathogenesis of ALD via neutrophil recruitment (45). The other way the immune system works to protect your body in the long term is to identify and develop immunity to a particular pathogen.

This elevates blood pressure.
  • Although the acute and chronic use of alcohol is deleterious for health and generally viewed as being immunosuppressive, it is not clear that documented alcohol-elicited changes in immune function are of clinical significance4.
  • Disruption to REM sleep may not only cause drowsiness and poor concentration the next day, but may have a detrimental effect on immune response.
  • In vitro study also indicated that BHB induced lower mitochondrial membrane potential, resulting in improved transcriptional level of M2 related genes in bone marrow derived macrophages (130).
  • Another study showed that consumption of alcohol stimulates a great proportion of hepatic NKT cells and induces an elevated sensitivity of liver cells to cell-mediated lysis, resulting in severe liver injury by a mechanism that involves synchronous signals by Fas and TNF receptor-1 on hepatocytes (75).
  • Chronic alcohol consumption also seems to induce decrease in peripheral B cells, while simultaneously promotes the generation of immunoglobulins.
  • Depression can cause HIV-infected individuals to stop taking their medications, going to medical appointments, and to actively stop engaging in personal care.


In the liver of alcohol-treated MIF-/- mice, the expression of TNF-α was attenuated due to reduced F4/80+ macrophages population. If foreign substances somehow make it through these barriers, your immune system kicks into gear with two defensive systems: An abundance of cytokines can damage your tissues, whereas a lack of cytokines leaves you open to infection.

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But these studies looked at the association between alcohol and colds. Seven months later, the researchers reinoculated the monkeys with the same vaccine. Deciding how much, if any, alcohol is right for you can be complicated.

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If your body can’t manage and balance your blood sugar levels, you may experience greater complications and side effects related to diabetes. Flu fighting nutrition: give your immune system a boost, supplement with 1,000 mg to 5,000 mg daily, depending on your personal needs. “The moderate drinkers produced the most antibodies against the virus,” in significantly greater volumes than those same monkeys had following their first exposure. The research, published Dec. Damage to the immune system from binge drinking or chronic alcohol consumption, in many cases, is reversible.

  • Increased CD25+FOXP3+ and CD4+FOXP3+ Treg populations induced by immunization with HCV core-containing DCs from ethanol-fed mice might be responsible for the suppression of HCV core-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell immune responses (104).
  • In our recent study, we have defined the protective role of a heterogeneous population, granulocytic-myeloid-derived suppressor cells (G-MDSCs) in response to ethanol-induced acute liver injury (3).
  • Cannabinoid CB2 receptors are G protein-coupled receptors, which are mainly expressed by immune cells such as macrophages.
  • To define the precise pathogenic role of these immune cells in the context of ALD, more prospective clinical studies that further elucidate their phenotypic diversity are expected.
  • Evidence also suggests that people who abuse alcohol are more likely to not only suffer from tuberculosis but also to have more severe cases.
  • These mediators could be targeted to prevent or alleviate alcoholic liver injury.
  • Alcohol is believed to impair NK cell function, leaving the body more vulnerable to malignancies.

Overcome Addiction to Help the Immune System Heal

While alcohol use alone wasn’t significantly associated with most biomarkers in PLWH, the interaction between alcohol use with HCV coinfection was associated with significant elevations on all biomarkers. The roles of B cells within the spectrum of ALD deserve to be further elucidated with mechanistic studies required. Abusing alcohol causes bacteria to grow in your gut, which can eventually migrate through the intestinal wall and into the liver, leading to liver damage. Different types of alcohol, as well as different intake levels, seem to play a strong role in our susceptibility to colds. Prior to consuming the alcohol, all of the animals showed comparable responses to the vaccination.

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Alcohol has the ability to disrupt your sleep cycle, reducing your quality of sleep and making you wake up more often, which can lead to a cascade of other problems that impair immune function. Symptoms of pancreatitis include upper abdominal pain that may radiate to the back, abdominal pain that worsens after eating, nausea, vomiting, fever and an elevated heart rate. Since therapeutic approaches for ALD are still limited and unsatisfactory, Chinese herbal medicine has been considered as a promising alternative approach (131–135). They eat anything that’s not supposed to be there, including cancerous cells, and they sound the alarm if pathogens are present. It begins to affect the part of your brain associated with judgement and decision making, causing you to be more reckless and uninhibited. This system works constantly—every second of your life—delivering oxygen and nutrients to your cells, and carrying away carbon dioxide and other unnecessary material.

The limbic system, which regulates emotions, also goes haywire, resulting in exaggerated emotions.

Mind & Body

The formation of scar tissue destroys the liver. Such symptoms usually disappear, however, after several weeks of sobriety. There are a variety of possible explanations. The heavy drinkers’ immune systems responded with fewer antibodies. However, the small number of miRNA detected in this study strongly suggest that these mechanisms of post-transcriptional regulation may not represent the primary mode by which ethanol alters immune cell functions, at least following ex vivo LPS stimulation. Higher neutrophil infiltration mediated by osteopontin is a likely contributing factor to the increased susceptibility of females to alcoholic liver disease. These multiple brain systems communicate with each other through about a trillion tiny nerve cells called neurons. Feeling lonely could impair your immune system, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology in December 2020.

These immune responses triggered by ADH may provide new targets for immune-regulatory therapies in ALD patients, and also serve as a biomarker to identify the risk of alcoholics in progressing to cirrhosis (115). But smoking and drinking together intensifies the cancer-causing properties of each substance. One drink (the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of hard liquor) does not appear to bother the immune system, but three or more drinks do. Your liver detoxifies and removes alcohol from the blood through a process known as oxidation. Diagnosis of alcohol use disorder (AUD) was determined using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Gender differences Generally, women seem to be more susceptible to autoimmune or inflammatory diseases, although they have a lower risk of infections than men, especially during the pre-menopausal years. Women who drink heavily during pregnancy have a higher risk of premature delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Plus, having a couple drinks per week is also one of the best ways to increase your HDL (good) cholesterol, so there's no reason to avoid it altogether.

Long term, binge- drinking has been associated with impaired memory and mental performance.

HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and the Immune System

Continued alcohol use leads to liver fibrosis and, finally, cirrhosis. Some of the addictive substances that can damage the immune system and lead to infectious diseases are described in further detail below. In alcoholic fibrosis, one of the most remarkable feature is the activated HSCs and proliferation of myofibroblasts stimulated by LPS and TGF-β1 (124). The findings are almost certainly appealing to human primates who enjoy the occasional happy hour, but there are some important caveats: Your cardiovascular system consists of your heart, blood vessels, and blood. These are white blood cells that act like the immune system’s soldiers, working to eliminate infected cells.

However, these studies stimulated human PBMC or THP1/RAW cell lines with LPS for various durations in the presence of different amounts of ethanol and measured canonical LPS inducible cytokines as readouts. Alterations in responses of PBMC from CHD to LPS can also be attributed to epigenetic changes. Given that a close association between T H 17 and liver injury was observed, the T H 17 pathway thus appears to play a vital role in ALD.

Other conditions include:

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Besides just the liver, alcohol abuse can be harmful to the lungs as well. Now, new research from Oregon Health & Science University adds a fascinating twist: Alcohol-induced damage to heart muscle cells can cause these electrical impulses to circle through the ventricle too many times, causing too many contractions. In the study of respiratory illness and vitamin D, the dose was equivalent to about 3,330 international units daily. Infiltrating macrophages, which are differentiated from circulating monocytes in the liver, have several subtypes with opposite functions. Chen RC, Xu LM, Du SJ, Huang SS, Wu H, Dong JJ, et al. These antibodies ward off viruses and other diseases that may attack the body. By the end of the evening, you are too slow to move out of the way of a waiter with a dessert tray and have trouble speaking clearly.

Is Pop Music Turning Teens Into Alcoholics?

Hormones may be the link between alcohol and breast cancer. Research shows people who drink in excess are more susceptible to respiratory illness and pneumonia and recover from infection and wounds more slowly. Smoking marijuana (pot) or any other drug irritates the lungs.

In alcoholic hepatitis patients whose condition seemed to improve, the frequency of IL-22-producing T helper cells was found to be increased, indicating T cell differentiation toward an IL-22-producing phenotype might be favorable for ALD suppression (113). Alcohol is a prevalent drug of choice in Western society, one that many people turn to in order to relieve stress, relax, and ‘enjoy themselves’. Study participants were aged between 21 to 70 years and had their HIV serostatus documented by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and confirmed by Western blot and plasma HIV RNA tests. There are small studies that suggest a benefit to some of these foods, but strong evidence is lacking. Greater alcohol use was associated with higher sCD163 but not for other biomarkers The main effect of HCV coinfection was also significant for sCD163 but was found not to be significant for LBP, LPS, or sCD14. Then these molecular patterns activate Kupffer cell through TLRs pathway (15–17), thereby leading to hepatic inflammation and exacerbating ALD. Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), one of the main ketone body, was found to show anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects via an Hcar2 dependent pathway. “We’re dealing with brain immune cells, which appear to respond to alcohol differently from blood immune cells,” says Hutchinson.