Light to moderate alcohol consumption lowers stroke risk in women


Light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk for both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in women, new research suggests.

The investigators examined data on 83,578 women in the Nurses’ Health Study who were free of diagnosed cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline. The participants were followed from 1980 to 2006.   Participants provided information about their use of alcohol at baseline and then every 4 years thereafter. They also provided information about lifestyle factors and stroke events every 2 years.     About 30% of the women reported that they never drank alcohol, 35% reported very low levels of consumption (less than 4.9 g/day, or half a glass of wine per day), and 37% drank moderately (5 – 14.9 g/day, or ½ to 1 ½ glasses of wine, 1 mixed drink, or 1 beer daily).   Analysis of the data showed that women who consumed low to moderate amounts of alcohol had a lower risk for total stroke compared with women who never drank.   After adjusting for a number of variables such as   smoking, physical activity, body mass index,Results were similar for ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.     There are several ways that alcohol might reduce the risk of stroke, alcohol has components which prevent blood clots and promote HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol. But alcohol is like a double-edge sword because higher levels can increase high blood pressure and promote atrial fibrillation, which are also risk factors for stroke.  It also increases the risk of breast cancer.     The findings from this study are not that new. Many studies have shown that stroke is in general 10, 15, 20% lower in moderate drinkers.

Stroke. Published online March 8, 2012. Full article