Binge drinking doubles heart attack risk

London: Binge drinkers are at twice the risk of a heart attack than those who consume the same amount but spread it over a week.

Researchers, led by Jean-Bernard Ruidavets from the Toulouse University in France, examined almost 10,000 healthy men aged between 50 and 59 and tracked them for 10 years.

It was found that the men who "binge" drink had nearly twice the risk of heart attack or dying from heart disease compared to regular drinkers over the 10 years of follow up, the British Medical Journal reports.

A binge was defined as consuming over 50g of alcohol in one day, around six units or just over two pints of strong lager or less than three standard 175 ml glasses of average strength red wine, according to the Telegraph.

Ruidavets wrote: "In Belfast (Ireland), most men`s alcohol intake was concentrated on one day of the weekend, Saturday, whereas in the three French centres studied, alcohol consumption was spread more evenly throughout the entire week."

"The prevalence of binge drinking, which doubled the risk of ischemic heart disease compared with regular drinking, was almost 20 times higher in Belfast than in the French centres."

The findings support the view that drinking small amounts of alcohol may protect the heart while large amounts cancel out this effect and cause damage.

The French also drink more wine than men in Belfast, which is thought to have a greater protective effect.