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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Binge Drinking Increases Heart Disease Risk

In Study, Heavy Drinkers Had Nearly Twice the Risk of Heart Attack or Death From Heart Disease

The Health Risks of Bingeing continued...

The authors say another reason for a higher risk of heart disease in Belfast might be that people tend to drink beer and liquor more than they do wine.

In France, wine, which has been shown to protect against heart disease when drunk in moderation, is the alcoholic drink of choice.

Ruidavets and his research team say their findings have important health implications, especially because binge drinking among younger people is on the rise in Mediterranean countries.

“The alcohol industry takes every opportunity to imbue alcohol consumption with the positive image, emphasizing its beneficial effects on ischemic heart disease risk, but people also need to be informed about the health consequences of heavy drinking,” the authors write.

Annie Britton of University College London says in an accompanying editorial that binge drinking doesn’t just increase the risk of heart disease but that it’s also linked to such dire health problems as cirrhosis of the liver and several types of cancer.

In addition, heavy drinking causes social problems, too, she says, and health messages aimed at middle-aged men should stress the idea that protective effects of alcohol may not apply to them if they go on drinking binges.

Britton says young people “are unlikely to take much notice of the findings about patterns of alcohol consumption and risk of heart disease at a time when their risk of heart disease is low.”

Rather, she says, young people are more likely to respond to anti-binge drinking messages that focus on the risk of alcohol poisoning, injuries, assaults, and “regretful risky sexual encounters.”

She says the “take-home message” of the Ruidavets study is that heavy drinking is bad for the heart. People don’t normally drink for health benefits, but reports of a positive impact from drinking may be all the excuse some people need to drink heavily. She says all heavy drinkers should be reminded that they are risking diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, chronic pancreatitis, and certain cancers. The study and editorial are published online in bmj.com.

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