24/11/2010 10:22 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Drink Little And Often To Protect Your Heart

Christmas is just around the corner, which means most of us will have more than our fair share of alcohol-guzzling opportunities. But don't leave all your drinking to the office Christmas party. According to French health experts, binge drinking doubles your risk of having a heart attack.

Binge drinking could lead to heart problems Lining up the shots at the office Christmas party could lead to heart problems. Photo: Flickr, TMAB2003

Writing in the British Medical Journal, researchers from Toulouse University compared drinking patterns in Northern Ireland and France - places where there are big discrepancies in heart disease statistics.

The amount of alcohol drunk during the course of a week in both countries was more or less identical, they found. But the pattern of drinking couldn't be more different. In Belfast, for instance, a week's worth of alcohol tends to be drunk in one or two days over the weekend. In France, however, alcohol intake is more likely to be spread evenly throughout the week.

Having studied almost 10,000 people in both countries, all of whom were free from heart disease when the research started almost 20 years ago, the experts discovered those who drank all their alcohol in one or two days - the binge drinkers, in other words - had almost twice the risk of heart attack or death by heart disease than the little-but-often drinkers.

There could be another reason why more drinkers have heart disease in Northern Ireland than in France, claim the experts. And that could have something to do with the type of alcohol people drink (more wine is drunk in France, for instance, while in Belfast beer and spirits are more popular).

Will you be attempting to moderate your drinking this Christmas?

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