BETHESDA, Md. -- Binge-drinking men consume inadequate amounts of essential fatty acids, possibly contributing to the adverse health consequences of too much alcohol, investigators here have concluded.
BETHESDA, Md., July 25 -- Binge-drinking men consume inadequate amounts of essential fatty acids, possibly contributing to the adverse health consequences of too much alcohol, investigators here have concluded.
As alcohol consumption increased in men, dietary intake of total saturated fatty acids, total monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), and total polyunsaturated acids (PUFA) decreased significantly (P=0.001 to P<0.0001), an NIH team reported in the online edition of the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Moreover, the increasing frequency of binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks a day, was associated with significant decreases in all three categories of essential fatty acids (P=0.004 to P=0.001), the investigators added.
A significant inverse relationship between binge drinking and intake of omega-3 PUFA, or n-3 fatty acid, is particularly concerning, noted Norman Salem Jr., Ph.D., of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and colleagues.
"The inverse association observed between binge drinking and n-3 fatty acid intake in our study implies that there may be adverse health effects on fatty acid intakes related to binge drinking in otherwise moderate drinkers," the authors stated.
"It is of particular importance that in all analyses . . . dietary [?-linolenic acid, LNA], [eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA], and total n-3 PUFA exhibited a consistent inverse trend. These decreases add to the already very low intake of typical American relative to recommended intakes for n-3 fatty acids."
Noting that fish and seafood are among the richest dietary sources of n-3 fatty acids, Dr. Salem said the results suggest that binge drinkers, particularly men, eat less fish compared with the general population. Binge drinking, therefore, may also affect food choices, he added.
The findings came from an analysis of data on 2,171 men and 1,997 women who participated in the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The investigators grouped participants according to their estimated daily alcohol consumption, which ranged from less than one to three or more drinks per day for men and from less than one to two or more drinks daily for women.
Fatty acid intake was determined by computer analysis of participant recall of dietary information, using software developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fatty acid intake was expressed as nutrient density, which was derived from the number of grams of fatty acid per 1,000 kcal of energy consumed.
In men, increasing alcohol volume was associated with significant decreases in multiple fatty acids within each of the three essential fatty acids categories, in addition to total intake of the three essential fatty acids. In women increasing alcohol volume was associated with decreased dietary intake of saturated fatty acids but not MUFA or PUFA. Frequency of binge drinking also did not affect essential fatty acids consumption in women.
In a separate analysis that excluded alcohol calories from total energy consumption, binge-drinking men still had significantly reduced intake of linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and total n-3 PUFA. The association was not seen in women.
The additive effect of binge drinking to already-low intake of n-3 PUFA "is of a magnitude that has dietary significance such that it will impact tissue n-3 fatty acid composition." Eicosapentaenoic acid, in particular, has been implicated in alcohol-related diseases, such as alcoholic liver disease. Binge drinking-induced decreases in n-3 fatty acid intake may exacerbate such problems.
"For those who drink, especially binge drinkers or those who drink more than one drink per day on average, make sure that you obtain your sources of n-3 fatty acids in the diet; that is, eat more fish," Dr. Salem advised.