Why limiting alcohol is especially key during flu season

By Marnie Soman Schwartz
Updated: March 09, 2015
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Flu season and New Year's Eve parties may be a particularly hazardous combo tomorrow night. A single episode of binge drinking (like pounding Champagne at an all-you-can-drink NYE bash) can depress your immune system, say researchers at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. They gave study participants four or five shots of vodka (enough to get them drunk, based on their weight) and measured their levels of different immune system cells after 20 minutes, 2 hours, and 5 hours. While they got a short-lived immune boost after the first 20 minutes, it went downhill from there. By the 2-hour mark (and again at the 5-hour mark), their blood showed signs of lower immune system activity.

This is dangerous for a couple of reasons: Not only will your body be less capable of fighting an incoming infection (like when someone sneezes on you) or one you're already battling, but you'll also have a tougher time healing if you get hurt while drunk (like tripping in heels and skinning your knee). For more details on how exactly vodka, tequila, etc., trip up your immune system, see Ask the Diet Doctor: Alcohol and Immunity. Start 2015 healthy and keep it (somewhat) moderate tomorrow night-a previous study in animals found that a little bit of alcohol may actually give your immunity a boost.

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