Irish men on drinking binges, who overindulge at weekends are more likely to suffer heart problems than French men, who consume more alcohol in comparison, but do so over the course of the week, new research has found.
The study of almost 10,000 middle-aged men found that males in Belfast city were76% more likely to experience cardiovascular issues than French men of a similar age.
The two-nation study further supports previous studies findings which have highlighted the dangerous health effects associated with binge drinking.
"Regular and moderate alcohol intake throughout the week, the typical pattern in middle aged men in France, is associated with a low risk of ischemic heart disease, whereas the binge drinking pattern more prevalent in Belfast confers a higher risk," Jean-Bernard Ruidavets, MD, of Toulouse University in France says.
The researchers expressed concern about the issue, considering binge drinking is on the rise among young people in countries such as France and Spain.
"The alcohol industry takes every opportunity to imbue alcohol consumption with a positive image, emphasizing its beneficial effects on risk of ischemic heart disease, but people also need to be informed about the health consequences of heavy drinking," they wrote.
The study followed almost 2,500 middle-aged men in Belfast and over 7,000 men in Toulouse, Lille and Strasbourg. When the research began in the early nineties, the men were aged 50-59 and free of heart disease.
Binge drinking was reported by almost 10% of Northern Irish participants but by only a mere 0.5% of French men.
Heart conditions including coronary death struck over 5% of Belfast participants and 2.6% of the French men during follow-up.
Participants from both countries, who reported steady wine consumption were about 35% to 50% less likely to experience coronary issues than men who never drank wine.