Moderate drinking can reduce stroke risk

The Guardian

London, January 5:

One who consumes three or more alcoholic drinks a day is 42 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than non-drinkers, according to a study which reinforces the message that more moderate consumption has some health benefits.

Light drinkers are no more at risk than abstainers of suffering blood clots in the brain, the medical histories of 38,156 US health professionals suggest. But the gains — from any quantity of alcohol — in preventing strokes are limited, reports Annals of Internal Medicine.

Kenneth Mukamal, head of the researchers from Beth Israel Medical Centre and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachussetts, said, “The participants who were at lowest risk for stroke were those who consumed one or two drinks on three to four days of the week. The importance of drinking pattern for stroke risk parallels our previous findings among this same group of men regarding alcohol consumption and the risk of developing diabetes and coronary heart disease.”

“Among all three types of disease, the lowest risk seems to occur when consumption is limited to one or, at most, two drinks, approximately every other day, with little benefit shown above three to four drinking days per week,” Dr Mukamal said, “I think there has been a subtle assumption that moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of ischaemic stroke caused by a blood clot blocking an artery serving the brain, similar to the way it is associated with a lower risk of heart attack. But the study did not demonstrate a significant role for alcohol in guarding against a stroke.”

“While there does appear to be a small window for which light drinking is associated with lower risk, it’s important to note this window is smaller than it is for heart disease and therefore you cannot extrapolate between the two.” The extra risk for the three-or-more-a-day drinkers might be attributable to alcohol’s association with high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.