Women’s Stroke Risk Reduced by Daily Alcoholic Beverage

women's stroke risk reduced

A number of studies have indicated the cardiovascular health benefits of drinking alcoholic beverages for women such as wine and beer in moderation, concluding that consuming one drink per day is a health-positive lifestyle choice for many adults.

The key point here being moderation as many individuals are all to familiar of the detrimental aspects of regularly consuming too much alcohol, whether it be from personal experience or from observing a friend or relative.

A recently published study suggests that women who drink one glass of wine per day are significantly less likely to have a stroke than those who do not drink at all, adding to the existing body of evidence linking limited alcohol consumption with improved physical and mental health.

A Comprehensive Study Combined with 26 Years of Data

The alcoholic beverages for women study was conducted by researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and included 84,000 women, all of whom were between the ages of 30 and 55. None of the women had any history of cardiovascular events or disease at the onset of the study. The data came from the Nurses’ Health Study, an enormous investigation into women’s health that has been ongoing for 26 years.

A total of 2,172 strokes occurred over the course of the study. The majority of these were ischemic strokes, defined as a stroke in which the brain is deprived of oxygen due to a lack of blood flow.

The women included in the study were asked to report their alcohol consumption, resulting in the following data:

  • 30% of the women never drank

  • 35% of the women drank half a glass of wine or less per pay, defined as drinking very little

  • 24% of the women drank one mixed drink, beer or glass of wine per day, defined as drinking moderately

  • 11% of the women drank more than one drink per day, defined as heavy drinking

A Remarkable Reduction in Stroke Risk

Exactly 1,045 of the 25,000 non-drinking women in the study experienced a stroke, while just 552 of the 29,000 women who drank very little experienced a stroke over the course of the study. Meanwhile, 341 of the roughly 20,000 women who drank moderately experienced a stroke.

When these figures are translated into percentage reductions in stroke risk, we see that women who have roughly half a drink per day are 17% less at risk for stroke, while women who have one drink per day are 21% less at risk for the same in comparison to non-drinkers.

The researchers noted that since the percentage of heavy drinkers involved in the study was relatively small, definite conclusions regarding their stroke risk could not be drawn.

The researchers also noted that their study established a link of correlation, but not necessarily
. In other words, the reduction in stroke risk could be due to other lifestyle factors that tend to coincide with light to moderate drinking. Generally, the researchers found that women who drank more heavily (but not necessarily in excess) tended to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) and engage in more physical activity. Unfortunately, heavier drinkers were also more likely to have hypertension and smoke cigarettes.

Why Does Drinking Reduce Stroke Risk?

The researchers said that there could be multiple ways in which light to moderate drinking reduces the risk of stroke. For example, alcohol may contain helpful compounds that protect against blood clots and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

At the same time, drinking too much alcohol could increase your risk for stroke. That’s because excessive alcohol consumption is known to put you at an increased risk for atrial fibrillation and hypertension, two factors known to increase stroke risk.

The recent study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital echoes the findings of a previous study in which both men and women who drank approximately one alcoholic beverage per day were 20% to 30% less likely to have a stroke.

Alcoholic Beverages for Women: The Bottom Line

According to a recent study, women who drink approximately one alcoholic beverage per day are about 20% less likely to experience a stroke than women who don’t drink at all. The researchers behind the study suggest that women who don’t currently drink shouldn’t start just to obtain the reduced stroke risk, since drinking in excess carries other risks such as high blood pressure.

The full text of the study can be found in the medical journal Stroke.

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