How is Binge Drinking practice dangerous for your liver?

In collaboration with Liver4Life

Binge drinking usually conjures up images of young people stumbling out of bars in a hazy mess however the reality is that just having two large glasses of wine will categorise you as a ‘binge drinker’. My Liver Exam gives you here more details.



This is not an exact definition of binge drinking, as tolerance to alcohol can vary from person to person and the speed of drinking in a session can also alter alcohol’s effects.

However, binge drinking usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk. UK researchers commonly define binge drinking as consuming more than six units of alcohol in a single session for men and women.1

Six units is equivalent to drinking between:

  • 2 and 3 standard (small/regular) glasses (175ml) of 13% strength wine1
  • 2 and 3 pints of 4% strength beer1

Impacts of binge drinking on the body

While the social effects of binge drinking are widely reported, the impact that it can have on health is usually a less popular subject. Aside from the sluggish, hangover feeling that you get when you drink too much, alcohol can cause serious damage to your body. Regular sessions of drinking over the limits can have a very real impact on health and alcohol is now considered a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver; and depression2.

While general alcohol consumption is linked to the health conditions stated above, the evidence showing the health impact of binge drinking is yet to be widely studied. Yet in January earlier this year, a study was published indicating that just seven weeks of intermittent binge drinking harms the liver in ways that more moderate daily drinking does not.3

The researchers discovered that just 21 binge-drinking sessions in mice were enough to cause symptoms of early-stage liver disease.3 Binge drinking produced fatty liver tissue and triggered early stages of inflammation, both indicators of alcohol-induced liver disease.3 Binging also increased the levels of enzymes linked to damaging the liver.3

Some advice in case of binge drinking practice

With this new evidence, it makes it even more important to look after the liver after an episode of heavy drinking:

  • Health groups and the NHS advise to take 2-3 consecutive days off alcohol each week to let the body recover4 – this is due to evidence indicating that the liver can regenerate in as little as three days.5 This has been shown in cases when a large part of the liver has been removed (usually for transplantation) and the liver restores itself to almost full size in a few days


  • Stay hydrated – aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water daily. Keeping the body hydrated is a key way to make you feel better


  • Eat well – steer away from processed foods and refined sugar, instead opting for fresh foods with plenty of vegetables


  • Know how much you’re drinking. If you’re drinking at home, measure out your home-poured glass of wine. 175ml is usually less than you think


  • Keep up your coffee consumption. Coffee has now been linked with a number of studies showing the positive effects it can have on the liver6

Binge drinking, alcohol in society and effects on the liver

  • In Great Britain, 56.9% of Opinions and Lifestyle Survey respondents aged 16 years and over in 2016 drank alcohol, which equates to 29 million people in the population.7


  • In the UK, 7.8 million people “binged” on alcohol on their heaviest drinking day. 7


  • Worldwide, 3.3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, this represent 5.9 % of all deaths.8 Overall 5.1 % of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol. 8


  • In the UK, 9,214 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, that equates to 177 deaths a week9


  • 9 out of 10 harmful drinkers will develop an alcohol-related fatty liver condition10 (Harmful drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption causing health problems directly related to alcohol11)


  • Around 30 per cent of people with alcohol-related fatty liver disease will develop cirrhosis12


If you are worried about your alcohol consumption or the health of your liver, visit your GP.

Associated content : 

Why is excessive alcohol bad for your liver?

Be vigilant about your alcohol intake! 



  1. NHS Choices. Binge drinking. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  2. Alcohol Concern. Alcohol Statistics. August 2016. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  3. Farley,P., Binge Drinking May Quickly Lead to Liver Damage. 2017. University of California San Francisco. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  4. NHS Choices. Have two alcohol-free days a week, say MPs. 2012. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  5. Cressman, Drew E; Greenbaum, Linda E; DeAngelis, Robert A; Ciliberto, Gennaro; et al.Science; Washington5291(Nov 22, 1996): 1379-1383. [Accessed 14 February 2017]
  6. Liu, F., Wang, X,. et al. 2015. Coffee Consumption Decreases Risks for Hepatic Fibrosis and Cirrhosis: A Meta-Analysis. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  7. Office of National Statistics. Statistical Bulletin: Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2005 to 2016. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  8. World Health Organization. Alcohol factsheet. 2015.[Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  9. Office of National Statistics. Alcohol-related deaths in the UK. 2017. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  10. Mathurin, p,. Bataller, R. 2015. Trends in the management and burden of alcoholic liver disease. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  11. Alcohol-use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence. Clinical Guideline. NICE. Published Feb 2011. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]
  12. Mann, R.E., Smart, R.S., Govoni, R. The Epidemiology of Alcoholic Liver Disease. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. [Accessed Noviembre 2017]