Women Who Drink Moderately Have Lower Stroke Risk | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Women Who Drink Moderately Have Lower Stroke Risk

Good news for those of us who see a glass of wine at the end of the day as Mom's reward: Light to moderate drinking may reduce the risk of stroke in women.

Women who drink a glass of wine, beer or a mixed drink daily were less likely to have strokes compared to women who don't drink at all, according to a findings from an ongoing study that has followed the health of more than 80,000 women for 26 years.

The question of how alcohol affects the risk of stroke has been a question among scientists. Moderate drinking appears to lowers the risk of heart disease. It probably does that by boosting the production of HDL, the good cholesterol, and reducing the risk of blood clots.

Blood clots can cause the most common type of stroke, so fewer blood clots should mean fewer ischemic strokes. That's what this new study, which was published online today in the journal Stroke, found.

The researchers also found less risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by a burst blood vessel in the brain. Earlier studies have found more risk of hemorrhagic stroke, perhaps because a clot would be a good thing there.

"We didn't find much of a difference in the association with either type of stroke," Monik Jimenez, the epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital who led the study, tells Shots. "That's a bit different than what's been shown before."

The study looked at the health records of 83,578 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study from 1980 to 2006. About 30 percent of the women didn't drink at all, and 35 percent reported very low alcohol intake – less than half a glass of wine a day. Just 4 percent said they drank 2 to 3 glasses of wine daily.

Because there were so few heavy drinkers, this study doesn't give a reliable picture of risk for women who drink heavily. But earlier studies have found that heavier drinking is linked to more strokes.

"At higher levels it can increase blood pressure," Jimenez says. Drinking a lot also can increase the risk of an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, which boosts the risk of stroke.

So this study isn't an invitation to booze it up. In fact, Jimenez says, women who don't drink can feel perfectly comfortable with that choice, because their risk of stroke is still relatively low. "We certainly don't want to advocate initiation of alcohol consumption for those who are non-drinkers."

The American Heart Association has a good overview on the relationship between alcohol and cardiovascular disease. They recommend no more than one to two drinks a day for men, and one a day for women.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'This Fight Begins In The Heart': Reading James Baldwin As Ferguson Seethes

Protests in Ferguson, Mo., continue in response to the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by police on Aug. 9. The incident reminds author Laila Lalami of James Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son.
NPR

Specialty Food And Agriculture Startups Are Ripening In Greece

Sotiris Lymperopoulos left a good job in Athens to collect wild sea greens for upscale restaurants. Food startups like his may be able to generate thousands of new jobs in post-crisis Greece.
NPR

With Ferguson, Obama Forced To Confront Race Yet Again

President Obama's carefully avoided taking sides following the shooting of Missouri teen Michael Brown, disappointing some African-American observers.
NPR

Ex-Microsoft CEO Ballmer Steps Down From Company's Board

Steve Ballmer, 58, on Tuesday resigned from the software giant's board because of other time consuming commitments including his new ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.