For this study, researchers from the University of Oxford in the U.K., Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, followed over 500,000 people from China for nearly 10 years. The participants were initially enrolled in the China Kadoorie Biobank between June 25, 2004 and July 15, 2008. The researchers monitored the participants for cardiovascular incidents such as stroke or heart attack.
In East Asian countries, many people have one or more genetic variants that lead them to experience an unpleasant reaction to alcohol. For this reason, they often drink less. The researchers used these variants called alleles to estimate people’s consumption of alcohol. These variants are inherited by people randomly at birth.
The researchers found that men who consumed four alcoholic drinks a day had a 38 percent greater risk of stroke, on average. The risk increased steadily from low levels of alcohol intake to four drinks per day. In addition, the participants’ blood pressure also increased with alcohol intake.
Because there were very few women who drank alcohol in the study, the researchers were not able to find out the effect alcohol had on their risk of stroke. As for the effect of alcohol on the risk of heart attack, the researchers said that the results were less certain. They explained that this may be due to fewer people in the study having heart attacks, which could limit their ability to analyze the data.
The researchers noted some limitations of their study. For one, most of the alcohol consumed in the study was hard liquor or spirits. Other types of alcohol, such as wine, which has protective phytochemicals, may affect stroke risk differently. However, the researches could not tell based on their data. Overall, the researchers noted that their results indicated that there is no protective effect of moderate alcohol intake. Therefore, any level of drinking may cause some health risks. (Related: Alcohol consumption is “an important modifiable risk factor of atrial fibrillation,” warn researchers.)
While researchers continue to study the effects of alcohol on cardiovascular health, there are other things you can do to lower your risk of stroke.
Know what foods and drinks to avoid to lower your risk of diseases. Visit HeartDisease.news to learn more.