New findings from a large study suggest that drinking up to two alcoholic beverages a day does not significantly increase the risk of stroke.
In fact, certain drinking patterns and consuming red wine may actually lower the risk, the study found. The new study’s findings support previous reports showing that heavy alcohol use raises stroke risk, but light or moderate alcohol use does not. Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day increased the risk by 42 percent compared with not drinking alcohol at all. Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and his colleagues evaluated the link between alcohol use and stroke by analyzing data from 38,156 male health professionals who participated in a long-term study known as the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers’ findings appear in the Annals of Internal Medicine. During 14 years of follow-up, men who consumed less than one alcoholic drink per day were just as likely to experience a stroke as abstainers, the authors note. Although consuming one to two drinks on a daily basis increased the risk of stroke slightly, limiting consumption to just three to four days per week reduced the risk by 32 percent compared with not drinking at all. Subjects who drank moderate amounts of red wine on a regular basis were 39 percent less likely to have a stroke than those who didn’t drink. The benefit was not seen for white wine, beer or liquor. “Our findings directly support current public health recommendations stating that men should consume fewer than two drinks per day to help prevent ischemic stroke,” the authors note. “At the same time, our findings support the safety of continued light alcohol consumption among adults who have been able to appropriately regulate the quantity and timing of their alcohol use.” (Source: Annals of Internal Medicine: Reuters Health: January 2005.)