Source: The Telegraph
By Laura Donnelly, Health Editor
Major research suggests one large glass of wine a day increases stroke risk significantly for those in their 50s and 60s
Middle aged drinkers who down just one large glass of wine a day increase their risk of stroke by a third, warns a new study.
The mass study, which tracked more than 11,000 twins over 43 years, found that otherwise healthy people who drank at such levels had a higher risk of stroke than others with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
The study, published in the journal Stroke, followed 11,644 twins over 43 years.
The results showed drinkers in their fifties and sixties who had at least two alcoholic drinks a day – the equivalent of one large glass of wine, or pint of strong lager – had a 34 per cent greater risk of stroke than those who consumed just under half the amount.
Current Government guidelines recommend men should not regularly drink more than three or four units of alcohol a day, while for women it is two to three units a day.
A large glass of wine served in pubs is 250ml, or one third of a bottle, and with an alcohol content of 12 per cent has three units of alcohol.
Previous studies have shown that alcohol affects stroke risk – but this one is the first to properly pinpoint differences with age.
The findings show that blood pressure and diabetes appeared to take over as one of the main influences on having a stroke at around the age of 75.
Pavla Kadlecová, of St. Anne’s University Hospital in the Czech Republic, said: “We now have a clearer picture about these risk factors, how they change with age and how the influence of drinking alcohol shifts as we get older.
“For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later productive age.”
Researchers looked at results from the Swedish Twin Registry of same-sex twins who answered questionnaires in 1967-70, all of whom were under the age of 60 at the time.
Follow-up records in 2010 showed 43 years of follow-up information, including hospital discharge and cause of death data.
The experts were then able to look at the data and find incidences of stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and other cardiovascular events.
Among identical twin pairs, siblings who had a stroke drank more than their siblings who hadn’t had a stroke, suggesting that mid-life drinking raises stroke risks regardless of genetics and lifestyle.
Dr Shamim Quadir, Research Communications Manager at the Stroke Association, said: “Alcohol is one of the world’s leading causes of ill-health, and regularly drinking large amounts can significantly increase your risk of a stroke.
“These important findings suggest that heavy drinkers in their 50s and 60s could be putting themselves at increased risk of stroke. The results also indicate that heavy drinking during middle-age is a higher risk factor for stroke than high blood pressure and diabetes.
“Enjoying alcohol in moderation, taking regular exercise and eating a balanced diet are simple ways to reduce your stroke risk. Anyone with any concerns should have a chat with their GP.”
Last week a separate study suggested that a small glass of wine a day could reduce the risk of heart failure by 20 per cent.
The Harvard research compared middle aged men who drink small amounts of alcohol – half a pint of beer a day, or a small glass of wine – with teetotallers.
Experts said both studies suggest a small quantities of alcohol could have a protective effect on the heart, but that larger amounts were risky.