A major study has revealed that having only one or two alcoholic beverages a night increases the risk of a stroke in later life.
Researchers from Oxford University said their study involving 500,000 people debunks the ‘myth’ that light drinking improves overall health.
It was found that one or two drinks per day increased the risk of suffering a stroke by 10 to 15 percent in the next ten years, and 4 drinks a day by 35 percent.
Many experts have debated that drinking alcohol moderately has a protective effect – showing studies that a pint of beer or glass of wine lowered the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
However, critics argue that those studies were flawed as they included alcoholic individuals who have become tee-total or those who didn’t drink due to health issues.
The results suggest that light drinkers were at lower risk that people who never drank at all.
Published in the Lancet medical journal, the new study got around the problem by using a genetic study of residents in China.
One-third of them carry a genetic quirk that means they cannot tolerate alcohol. Their genes don’t have the ability to get rid of the toxic byproduct of alcohol, causing them to become flushed and nauseous after consuming a small amount.
Researchers tested the genes of people in ten areas of China and observed their drinking. Those who didn’t drink due to genetic mutation were judged to be a reliable marker of 0 alcohol consumption as they couldn’t tolerate the beverage. The other 2/3s who didn’t have the same genetic quirk were able to drink freely.
Professor Sir Richard Peo said the findings were not intended to put people off drinking as smoking would have a bigger influence on risk. “I don’t think people are going to change what they drink due to these results.
“But we have got the truth about a story that has been a myth for ages.”
Study leader Professor Zhengming Chen said: “It has been claimed that moderate drinking is potentially beneficial, especially for cardiovascular disease. This study shows really robust evidence that refutes this claim. The key message is this protective effect is not real.
“Even moderate alcohol consumption increases the chances of having a stroke.” He added: “The findings for heart attack were less clear-cut, so we plan to collect more evidence.”
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