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Alcohol and Heart Health

Binge Drinking Doubles Heart Disease Risk

Researchers in Ireland say that people who regularly drink more than 4 or 5 drinks in a sitting have nearly twice the risk of heart disease.

Researchers out of the University of Toulouse observed the drinking habits of 10 000 men in Ireland and France over a 10 year period to see what implications, if any, differing drinking habits had for heart health.

All men were heart disease free at the beginnings of the study period. Based on self reports of drinking, each study subjects was placed into 1 of 4 groups:

  • Men who had never drank
  • Men who had drank in the past but no longer did
  • Men who drank regularly in moderation
  • Men who binge drank

The Results:

Compared to men who drank moderately but regularly, after 10 years, the men who binge drank were found to have 1.9 times the risk of heart attack or dying as a result of heart disease.

Drinkers in France were far more likely to drink every day, but only in small quantities. Men in Ireland who drank rarely consumed alcohol daily, but consumed an average of 200% to 300% more than French men on weekends.

Amy Thompson, of the British Heart Foundation commented on the study results, saying, “This reinforces what we already know - that drinking high levels of alcohol can be harmful to your heart. It's important to avoid binge drinking and it's better to have a small amount of alcohol regularly rather than large amounts in one go.”

The full research results were published this week in the British Medical Journal.

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