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Slow poison: Alcohol harms not just your liver, but pancreas too

Another reason for you to not drink too much: regular drinking weakens pancreas’ ability to absorb vitamin C, making you weak and vulnerable to a host of diseases, warn researchers.

health and fitness Updated: May 13, 2016 19:36 IST
Regular drinking weakens pancreas’ ability to absorb vitamin C, making you weak and vulnerable to a host of diseases, warn researchers.
Regular drinking weakens pancreas’ ability to absorb vitamin C, making you weak and vulnerable to a host of diseases, warn researchers. (Istock)

Another reason for you to not drink too much: regular drinking weakens pancreas’ ability to absorb vitamin C, making you weak and vulnerable to a host of diseases, warn researchers.

The pancreas produces the enzymes used to digest food and the hormones, such as insulin, that are needed to store energy from food.

Pancreatic diseases and damage to the pancreas can lead to digestive problems, malnutrition and diabetes.

Reducing the levels of vitamin C and other essential micronutrients will interfere with normal cellular activities in the pancreas, said lead researcher Hamid Said from the University of California.

Read: Consuming processed meat, alcohol ups the risk of stomach cancer

“This may sensitize the pancreas to a secondary insult, predisposing it to the development of pancreatitis and other pancreatic diseases,” Said explained.

The findings appeared in the American Journal of Physiology.

To function properly, pancreatic cells require a number of vitamins, which they take from the blood stream.

In this study, the research team investigated whether alcohol exposure interfered with the pancreas’s absorption of vitamin C.

Read: On a high: It’s not your fault, alcohol’s smell makes it irresistible

The research team first identified the protein called sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter 2 (SVCT-2) as the main protein responsible for transporting vitamin C into pancreatic cells.

Next, the researchers exposed mouse pancreatic cells to alcohol levels similar to the blood alcohol concentration of chronic alcoholics.

The researchers also fed mice a diet in which alcohol made up 25 percent of the total calories consumed.

They found that both pancreatic cells directly exposed to alcohol and pancreatic cells from alcohol-fed mice had lower numbers of SVCT-2, blocking the cells’ absorption of vitamin C.

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