Just one drink daily can raise stroke risk The Morung Express

The findings conducted in the UK and China are said to be relevant to all populations

The findings conducted in the UK and China are said to be relevant to all populations

Blood pressure and stroke risk rise steadily the more alcohol people drink, and previous claims that one or two drinks a day might protect against stroke are not true, according to a genetic study.

Drinking alcohol moderately may not be as healthy as people or some researchers think. Although these genetic variants greatly reduce the amount people drink, they are unrelated to other lifestyle factors such as smoking.

After 10 years, there were 10,000 cases of stroke and 2,000 cases of heart attack among the participants.

The study also found no evidence of light or moderate drinking having a protective effect, in other words, reducing the risk of stroke.

For the study, each participant reported their drinking habits and about a third had their DNA tested to see if they had genes for processing alcohol, which made them more prone to drinking.

"This large collaborative study has shown that stroke rates are increased by alcohol", says Liming Li, coauthor and professor from Peking University.

Western populations don't possess these genes, so it would be impossible to carry out a similar study here. She adds that their genetic investigations have paved the way for them to understand cause and effect relationships.

So what does this mean for me?

Europe has the highest per person alcohol consumption in the world, even though it has dropped by around 10 percent since 2010, the WHO says, and current trends point to a global rise in per capita consumption in the next 10 years.

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This is reflected in the current United Kingdom guidance - which advises a limit of 14 units of alcohol a week, with several alcohol-free days to keep health risks low.

Why it matters: "The key message here is that, at least for stroke, there is no protective effect of moderate drinking", said Zhengming Chen, a professor at Oxford University's Nuffield Department of Population Health who co-led the research, according to Fox News.

What do other experts say?

Although many leading scientists agreed with the study's findings, Stephen Burgees, a researcher at the University of Cambridge noted the study was limited to Chinese and focused on spirits, beer and not wine.

That said, there were some limitations with the study.

"It strongly suggests that there is no cardiovascular benefit of light drinking and that risk of stroke increases even with moderate light alcohol consumption", he said.

Researchers in China found those who consume one to two drinks a day have an increased stroke risk of about 10 to 15 percent, compared with nondrinkers.

"It has certainly advanced what we know about the role of alcohol in some diseases but it can't be the last word", he said.

For the new study, the Chinese and British scientists took genetics into account.

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