Binge Drinkers At Higher Risk of Heart Disease

New research, published in the British Medical Journal, studied the alcohol consumption patterns of middle aged men in France and Belfast. The study, led by Dr Jean-Bernard Ruidavets from Toulouse University, assessed 9,758 men considered to be free from heart disease, between the ages of 50 to 59 in the year 1991 and that resided in either three centres in France (Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse) or Belfast.

In the study, participants were categorized as non-drinkers, former drinkers, regular drinkers or binge drinkers. “In the study, binge drinking is defined as excessive alcohol consumption (over 50g) drunk over a short period of time, for example on one day during the weekend (50g of alcohol equates to 4-5 drinks, and a drink to 125ml of wine or a half pint of beer).”

Of the drinkers, researchers questioned their drinking habits to uncover the usual type of beverage consumed and the volume consumed on a daily and weekly basis via interview and survey. “Cardiovascular risk factors, such as age, tobacco use, level of physical activity, blood pressure, and waist circumference were also taken into account.”

Results found that both countries consumed almost identical amounts of alcohol over a period of one week, however, those drinkers from Belfast had a tendency to drink the same quantity over a few days, whereas those in France paced their drinking throughout the week. Distinctively, Belfast drinkers consumed 2-3 times more over the weekend.

After a 10 year follow-up, findings suggest that binge drinkers from Belfast were more likely to suffer from heart disease than the slow and steady drinkers from France. In particular, binge drinkers were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or death due to heart disease compared to regular drinkers. In addition, "the prevalence of binge drinking, which doubled the risk of ischaemic heart disease compared with regular drinking, was almost 20 times higher in Belfast than in the French centres."

Although these results seem to place the blame on binge drinking, there is no differentiation between type of alcohol consumed and heart disease in the study. The typical beverage consumed by drinkers France was wine, while those in Belfast tended to drink beer. That being said, previous research has concluded that drinking a moderate amount of wine could protect against heart disease, thereby possibly confounded the results in this study.

Despite the severity of the link between binge drinking and ill health effects, the behavior can have immediate consequences on one’s health, such as alcohol poisoning, injuries, assaults, risky sexual behaviors etc. These are the kinds of risks that many of the people in the binge drinker category tend to focus on. However, young people need to be more cautious and think about the potential long-term effects to protect themselves against future complications as a result of binge drinking, such as heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, several types of cancer etc.

Binge Drinking May Lead to Higher Risk of Heart Disease



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