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Alcohol and heart disease

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 24 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5957
  1. Annie Britton, senior lecturer in epidemiology
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
  1. a.britton{at}

Regular consumption is less damaging than binge drinking

The health benefits of consuming alcohol are well known, but occasionally the cardioprotective benefits of drinking are challenged.1 In the linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.c6077), Ruidavets and colleagues compare groups of middle aged men in France and Northern Ireland, who have very different drinking cultures and rates of heart disease.2 The authors found that men who “binge” drink (drink ≥50 g of alcohol once a week) had nearly twice the risk of myocardial infarction or death from coronary disease compared with regular drinkers over 10 years of follow-up.

Roger Hutchings/Alamy

Those with a “glass half full” perspective might try to find a different spin on this paper. The authors also found that French men who were regular heavy drinkers, even those who drank on average more than 75 g of alcohol a day (just over a bottle of wine), had a similar risk of heart disease to those who drank 1-24 g a day. This doesn’t just apply …

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