, PARIS, Nov 24 – Binge drinking, long known as a cause of liver damage, is also linked to heart disease, according to a 10-year study in Northern Ireland and France published on Wednesday by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Researchers from Britain and France contrasted the drinking patterns among more than 9,700 middle-aged men in three cities in France (Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse) and in Belfast, the Northern Irish capital.
The volunteers, aged 50-59, were free from heart disease at the start of the study in 1991.
Over the course of a week, the volume of alcohol they consumed was roughly the same.
In France, though, the drinking was spread out quite evenly over a week and mainly involved wine. In Belfast, the men usually consumed beer, followed by spirits, and heavily concentrated their drinking at weekends, imbibing between two and three times more than in France.
Men who were "binge" drinkers were nearly twice as likely as regular drinkers, during the 10-year course of the study, to have a heart attack or die from heart disease.
Binge drinking was defined in the study as more than 50 grammes of alcohol drunk over a short period of time, such as one day during the week. Fifty grammes equates to four to five drinks, and a drink to 125 millilitres (4.2 fluid ounces) of wine or half a pint (284 millilitres) of beer.