Drinking even one alcoholic drink per day raises the risk of having a stroke, according to a new study which claims that there is “no safe amount” of alcohol consumption.
As CNN reports, a joint study from Peking University, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and the University of Oxford links even low levels of alcohol consumption with increased blood pressure that can lead to strokes. And here, “low levels” means even one or two drinks per day. A “drink” is defined as a small glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a single measure of liquor.
Specifically, adults who drink even one or two drinks per day have a 10-15 percent increased risk of stroke. Those who drink four or more drinks per day face a 35 percent increase in the risk of having a stroke.
“There are no protective effects of moderate alcohol intake against stroke. Even moderate alcohol consumption increases the chances of having a stroke.”
The results of the new study stand in contrast to earlier studies that suggest that moderate alcohol consumption confers some health benefits, specifically by helping to prevent stroke, rather than increase the risk.
It certainly caught David Spiegelhalter, a professor for the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge, by surprise.
“I have always been reasonably convinced that moderate alcohol consumption was protective for cardiovascular disease, but now I am having my doubts.”
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Perhaps Dr. Spiegelhalter shouldn’t have been so surprised after all: just last year, as CNN reported at the time, another study concluded that there is “no safe amount” of alcohol consumption. Lead study author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said that her research contradicts earlier research that says that moderate alcohol consumption is probably OK.
“The most surprising finding was that even small amounts of alcohol use contribute to health loss globally. We’re used to hearing that a drink or two a day is fine. But the evidence is the evidence.”
As for the recent Peking University study, Dr. Stephen Burgess, from the University of Cambridge, pointed out a major flaw in the new research: namely, that the study only looked at Chinese people — 500,000 of them over the past ten years. The problem is that there’s a genetic variant in some East Asian populations that makes it more difficult for them to tolerate alcohol. Applying the results to the world population at-large could be problematic.
Still, Burgess concedes that the new study is pretty clear that there is ample evidence to suggest that moderate alcohol consumption does, in fact, increase the likelihood of suffering a stroke.