Using data from a population-based Swedish data set, researchers led by Pavla Kadiecova from St. Anne s Hospital, Brno, Czech Republic, examined the association of mid-life alcohol consumption with risk of stroke in later life. They used the Swedish Twin registry, which included over 11,500 participants who were 60 years old or younger, and who had been born between 1886 and 1925. All had information on alcohol consumption in their records.
The researchers found that 29 percent of the study participants had had a stroke sometime during the 43 years of follow-up. People who consumed more than 2 drinks per day (heavy drinkers) had a one-third higher risk of stroke compared to light drinkers (less than half a drink per day). They also found that as people aged, the risk of stroke increased for non-drinkers, while it decreased for heavy drinkers. For the latter group, high blood pressure and diabetes were more important determinants of stroke risk as the participants aged, i.e. as they reached 75 years old.
Basically, the study suggested that the association between alcohol consumption and risk of stroke varies with both age and amount of alcohol consumed. In midlife, heavy drinking seemed to be more important than diabetes and hypertension as a risk factor, but this association changed as individuals aged, according to these data.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava had this to say: While this study benefits from a large dataset and long follow-up period, it is important to recognize that it is still a descriptive study that cannot be relied upon to demonstrate a causal relationship. As we have written in the past, there are numerous studies indicating that moderate alcohol consumption can benefit health.