As a non-drinker, I look at research about alcohol consumption with detached interest. I understand that most people like a drink and I am well-aware of the fact Australia has quite an established culture of binge drinking.
(No sense being moderate when you can down several beers, a few shots and then fall into an Uber at the end of the night… right?)
But is binge drinking really worse for your health than those who enjoy a couple of drinks every night?
Very cute Twin doctors have put themselves through the ultimate test for BBC’s Horizon. They took opposite approaches to drinking, and they (or their livers) answered the question once and for all:
What’s worse for your health: a couple of drinks every night or several at the weekend?
In the BBC Horizon episode “Is binge drinking really bad for you?” twin doctors Chris and Alexander put themselves to the ultimate test. Article continues after this video.
Dr Chris van Tulleken volunteered to drink moderately, following recommendations from healthcare system National Health Service Choices that men can drink a couple of drinks every night without any major risk to their health. What concerned him most about this, was that he was never giving his liver a rest from alcohol.
Dr Xand van Tulleken, Chris’ twin brother, volunteered to try binge drinking, agreeing to abstain from alcohol during the week and hit it hard at the weekend. For the sake of the study, he consumed a week’s worth of alcohol (the same amount as Chris drank over the course of the week) in one night. (Eeek!)
He wrote for the BBC, “Given that blokes like us are “allowed” three to four units of alcohol a day, is it better to get a whole week’s worth out of the way in one binge and give your liver a chance to recover afterwards? Or to spread the booze across the week, just a couple every night, but never giving your liver a rest?”
The doctors put their livers to the test and, before conducting the research, they both abstained from alcohol for a month. This meant their livers were in relatively healthy condition going into the study.