Occasionally splurging on alcohol once or twice a week is no big deal, right? New research published in the British Medical Journal this past November 2010 would argue otherwise. Researchers found heavy drinking or binge drinking a couple days a week worse for the heart than drinking a moderate amount of alcohol throughout the week.
Researchers investigated the effects of alcohol intake patterns on ischemic heart disease in Northern Ireland and France, two countries with contrasting lifestyles.
The 10 year study analyzed the Prospective Epidemiological Study of Myocardial Infarction (PRIME) for 9778 men (2405 men from Belfast, Northern Ireland and 7373 men from France) between the ages of 50-59 years-old.
The participating men were divided into four groups - non-drinkers, former drinkers, regular drinkers, and binge drinkers. Binge drinking was defined as excessive alcohol consumption equivalent to 4 or 5 drinks in a short period of time, such as a weekend day.
Through interviews and questionnaires study assessed alcohol consumption:
- Incidence of binge drinking
- Incidence of regular drinking
- Volume of alcohol intake
- Frequency of alcohol consumption
- Types of alcohol consumed
Researchers found middle-aged men in France and Belfast drink about the same quantity of alcohol per week. However, the men in Belfast tend to binge drink at a higher level by consuming the same quantity of alcohol within one or two days compared to the French intake which is spread out over the period of one week.
Another difference is the type of alcohol intake. Men in France tend to drink wine in moderation which has been shown to protect against heart disease, while men in Belfast prefer beer and liquor.
The results show men who binge drink are nearly twice as likely to suffer a heart attack of death related to heart disease compared to regular drinkers.
Be sure to grab the special report "How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits" provided by Health Central dietitian Lisa Nelson at http://hearthealthmadeeasy.com.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.