Researchers report that light to moderate alcohol consumption exhibits a consistent link to a lowered risk of heart disease yet the data for lowered stroke risk, particularly among women who are non-drinkers or heavy drinkers, remains less certain. The study encompassed 83,578 female participants of the Nurse’s Health Study, who researchers note were free of diagnosed cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline. Researchers add that study participants were followed-up from the year 1980 to the year 2006.  

The study indicates that data obtained from self-reported alcohol consumption was assessed by researchers at baseline and updated every 4 years. Stroke and potential confounder data were updated at baseline and biennially. The results suggest that the risk of total stroke was significantly lower among light to moderate consumers of alcohol than among subjects reporting no alcohol intake. The study’s authors note that compared to non-drinkers, the estimated risk of total stroke was 17% to 21% lower for women averaging up to 15 grams of alcohol per day. Those who consumed larger amount of alcohol, levels of consumption above 38 grams, exhibited an increased risk of stroke.

Researchers note that among the predominantly light drinkers, they observed no differences between effects on the risk of ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke. The study’s results indicate a “J-Shaped” curve, displaying reductions in risk for light to moderate drinkers and a potential increase in risk for heavier drinkers. The study reports the point at which the risk of stroke in women exceeded that of non-drinkers was in the consumption of about 38 grams of alcohol per day. According to researchers, participants’ use of hormones, multivitamins, physical activity, high cholesterol, and family history of myocardial infarction were similar across categories of alcohol intake.

Source: Boston Medical Center