This site is intended for health professionals only

Binge drinking "poses heart risk"

People who binge drink could be increasing their chances of suffering from heart disease, according to research.

A study, which has been published in the British Medical Journal, found that consuming large amounts of alcohol in just one or two sessions is more harmful than spreading alcohol intake throughout the week.

Researchers who examined the drinking habits of 10,000 people in Belfast and France, found that those in the capital of Northern Ireland are far more likely to be binge drinkers than their French counterparts.

Overall the average amount drank by both groups in a week was about the same, but people in Belfast need fewer sittings.

Only 51% of drinkers in the Northern Ireland city consumed alcohol regularly compared to 90% in France. Meanwhile, 9% of people quizzed in Belfast were binge drinkers, compared to just 0.5% in France.

Three-quarters of French men drank every day, while only 12% of men in Belfast have a daily tipple.

When studying the chance of heart attack and death from heart disease, the authors found that binge drinking doubled the risk in comparison to regular drinking.

Binge drinking was defined as consuming at least 50g of alcohol on at least one day per week.

Meanwhile, regular drinking was drinking alcohol on at least one day a week, and, if drinking on only one occasion, consuming less than 50g of alcohol.

Copyright © Press Association 2010