Healthy living

Binge drinking linked to double risk of heart disease

Binge drinking linked to double risk of heart disease Drinking in Ireland and France compared

Binge drinkers may have twice the risk of heart disease compared with people who drink the same amount of alcohol but more evenly throughout the week.

A study in the British Medical Journal compared the drinking patterns of middle aged men in Belfast with those living in Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse.

The researchers, from Toulouse University, wanted to find out whether the drinking patterns in Northern Ireland and France were behind the different rates of heart disease in the two countries.

A total of 9,758 men between the ages of 50 and 59 were tracked for ten years. All the men were free from heart disease at the start of the study.

Although the average amount of alcohol drunk by all of the men was nearly identical, the men in Belfast drunk 2 to 3 times more during the weekend compared with the French. Binge drinking was also found to be nearly twenty times higher in Belfast than in the three French towns.

The findings showed that the men who binge drink had nearly twice the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease compared to regular drinkers over the 10 years.

In the study, binge drinking was defined as consuming 50g of alcohol over a short period of time. Fifty grams of alcohol is equivalent to four to five half pints of beer or 125ml glasses of wine.

Another reason for the higher risk of heart disease in Belfast could be that more people tend to drink beer and spirits compared with France, where wine is the main alcoholic drink.

Although past studies have linked an increased risk of heart disease with alcohol, this research suggests that binge drinking carries an additional risk.

The researchers wrote: “We found that alcohol consumption patterns differed radically in the two countries: in Belfast most men’s alcohol intake was concentrated on one day of the weekend (Saturday), whereas in the three French centres studied alcohol consumption was spread more evenly throughout the entire week.”

This article was published on Wed 24 November 2010

Image © Yurok Aleksandrovich -

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