Hôpital Huriez, service des maladies de l’appareil digestif, Rue Polonovski, 59037 Lille cedex, France
Binge drinking (which can be defined as « drinking too much too fast ») is a heterogeneous practice that covers different patterns of alcohol consumption from acute drunkenness in students to acute excessive drinking in chronic heavy alcohol consumers. This condition is frequent in Western countries, especially the United-Kingdom and Northern Europe. The acute consequences of binge drinking are, like acute drunkenness, well known (violence, traffic accidents, cardiovascular risk…). However, the risks to the liver have not been extensively studied in humans and data showing hepatic toxicity are mainly based on old cohort studies. In experimental studies, binge drinking leads to inflammation, steatosis, activation of fibrogenic pathways, etc. There are some indirect data suggesting that binge drinking may lead to cirrhosis. Even if strong scientific results are still lacking, it is highly important to increase awareness in the general population and especially young people on the risks of binge drinking and to limit easy access to alcohol by increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages. Counseling and information are also key elements in particular with brief interventions. Specific attention must be paid to this condition which is responsible for 100,000 hospital admissions per year in France, by involving specialists in addiction, hepatology, public health and epidemiology.