New research from the Korea University College of Medicine suggests that drinking frequently (even in small amounts), puts people at greater risk of a having a heart rhythm disorder than binge-drinking infrequently does.
In other words, a nightly glass of wine, beer or scotch whiskey isn’t necessarily “healthy moderation” – it’s just moderation.
“Recommendations about alcohol consumption have focused on reducing the absolute amount rather than the frequency,” Dr Jong-Il Choi, of Korea University College of Medicine and Korea University Anam Hospital, said in a press release. “Our study suggests that drinking less often may also be important to protect against atrial fibrillation.”
Which, is an affliction that affects between 2.7 – 6.1 million Americans. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder and it increases a person’s risk of having a stroke by up to five times. People who have it know, it sucks: heart palpitations, a racing or irregular pulse, shortness of breath, chest pain and dizziness are all common symptoms. Left untreated, atrial fibrillation can be deadly.
Shit’s scary. More than 130,000 people die from atrial fibrillation related events every year.
And, according to these Korean scientists, your chances of developing this condition are higher if you drink regularly than if you just binge drink infrequently. Apparently, getting totally shit-house wasted crazy once in a while is healthier (at least in relation to atrial fibrillation) than enjoying a glass of wine with your dinner every night.
For the study they analyzed almost a million study subjects, comparing their medical history and drinking habits. According to their results, drinking every night is the riskiest; and drinking once a week, the least risky.
So, it’s the frequency of alcohol consumption that matters, not the quantity, according to this study.
This is not great news for alcohol enthusiasts, social drinkers and boozy connoisseurs of all kinds. Because, a lot of people do both: most of twenty- and thirty-somethings I know enjoy a nice moderate dose of alcohol on the reg, and the occasional night of guzzling everything they can get their hands on. I’m one of them. And I don’t know what to make of this revelation.
It’s also bad news for the casual drinker; for those who don’t go hard-in-the-paint, but who just like to sip on a nice glass of liquor at the end of the day. People who really simply enjoy the taste of a fine boozy beverage and the feeling of a little one-drink buzz. Sadly, their nightly ritual is significantly contributing to their chances of developing atrial fibrillation.
The only people who seem to be coming out of this on top are the occasional binge drinkers — those people who don’t drink often, but when they do, it’s all hands on deck. According to this study, that weird demographic has a lower risk of developing a heart rhythm disorder than the rest of us, simply because they drink less frequently.
What are we supposed to take away from all this? That binge drinking is okay if you only do it once in a while and don’t drink at all in between? That everyone who drinks moderately but frequently is fucked and doomed?
Maybe. But that isn’t going to stop me from having a beer tonight.