Biomarker In Young Adult Binge Drinkers Measured for First Time

By Brent McCluskey 07/30/15

The groundbreaking study examined the relationship between biomarkers and alcohol consumption.

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Researchers have measured a specific biomarker in young adults for the first time and found a direct correlation to the presence of the biomarker and rate of alcohol consumption.

The study, conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, set researchers out to track a biomarker known as PEth. It has been known for some time that PEth is connected to alcohol consumption, but it has never before been measured in young adults, making this study groundbreaking in its own right.

Mariann Piano, professor and head of the department of biobehavioral health science in the UIC College of Nursing, surveyed student participants at two large Midwestern university campuses.

Participants were required to fill out a questionnaire to determine their drinking habits and were then placed into one of three different drinking categories: abstainer, moderate drinker, and binge drinker.

Abstainers had not consumed more than one alcoholic drink within the last month, moderate drinkers had consumed three or less drinks per sitting no more than twice a week for the past five years, and binge drinkers had drank heavily at least twice within the last month.

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

Blood was drawn and the biomarkers analyzed from each participant, revealing a strong correlation between PEth and drinking frequency.

“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.

Piano hopes the results can be used for further research to help determine the best alcohol treatments for young adults.

“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,” said Piano.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.