I often talk about the health benefits of red wine. A few weeks ago it was a new study that showed more evidence that moderate red wine consumption may reduce breast cancer risk. Studies have also shown that moderate alcohol consumption has been consistently associated with lower risk of heart disease. But, until now that data for the impact of alcohol consumption on stroke risk was less conclusive. Now, a new study joins the growing body of research that concludes light-to-moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of stroke.
The study, published last week in the journal Stroke, reported that a 26-year study of 83,578 women showed that women who drank low amounts of alcohol — about half of a glass of wine per day, on average — were 17% less likely to have a stroke compared with women who drank no alcohol. Women who drank about a glass a day were 21% less likely to have a stroke than who didn’t. And, if you’re curious, women who drank more alcohol showed no reduction in stroke risk.
In the study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looked at 84,000 women who, at the study’s start, had no evidence of cardiovascular disease and were between 30 and 55 years old. The researchers used data collected as part of the Nurses’ Health Study, a large study of women’s health that began in 1976. Over the study, there were 2,171 strokes.
Interestingly, increasing alcohol consumption was linked with being more likely to smoke and have high blood pressure, but also with doing more physical activity and having a lower body mass index, according to the study.
There are several ways the link between drinking and stroke risk could be explained, the researchers said. Alcohol may have compounds that increase “good” cholesterol and prevent blood clots. Higher levels of alcohol intake may increase the risk of high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation, which are risk factors for stroke.