How Much Alcohol Can You Drink? Researchers Find Four Glasses Of Wine Could Damage Health

You go to the pub for a quick drink after work and 'one drink' soon turns into four - we've all been there.

But new research shows that this seemingly harmless boozy habit could be having a detrimental effect on our health.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that a single alcohol binge can cause lasting damage to the body.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, classes a 'single binge' as anything over four alcoholic drinks for women and five for men.

A single alcohol binge causes bacteria to leak from the gut, leading to increased levels of toxins in the blood,

Professor Gyongyi Szabo, who led the research, said: "We found that a single alcohol binge can elicit an immune response, potentially impacting the health of an otherwise healthy individual.

"Our observations suggest that an alcohol binge is more dangerous than previously thought."

During the study, 11 men and 14 women were given enough alcohol to raise their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to at least 0.08g/dl in the space of an hour in order to measure the impact of binge drinking.

Blood samples were taken from the participants every 30 minutes for four hours after, and then again 24 hours later.

The results showed that just one alcohol binge led to a rapid increase in endotoxins in the blood - these cause the body to produce immune cells involved in fever, inflammation and tissue destruction.

The researchers also found that bacteria had entered the gut, demonstrated by evidence of bacterial DNA in the bloodstream.

According to the study, the impact of one binge could be far reaching as this bacteria could then travel through the gut walls to other parts of the body.

Women had higher blood alcohol levels compared to men, as well as higher endotoxin levels.