A study released by the American Heart Association journal has raised some concerns around consuming alcoholic beverages in middle age. Drinking more than 2 alcoholic beverages substantially raises risk of stroke.
The large scale participants consisted of 11,644 middle-aged Swedish twins who were followed for 43 years and specifically examined the impact of heavy drinking (2 or more drinks per day) to light drinking defined as less than half a drink daily. The twins completed questionnaires in 1967-70. All twins were under age 60 at the start. By 2010, the registry yielded 43 years of follow-up, including hospital discharge and cause of death data.
The findings revealed that heavy drinkers had a 34% increased risk of stroke compared to light drinkers. People between the ages of 50 and 60 were more likely to have a stroke 5 years earlier in life irrespective of genetic and early-life factors. Heavy drinking was more of stroke risk than other factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Thirty % of the research participants had a stroke during the study. They were categorized as light, moderate, heavy or non-drinkers based on the questionnaires.
Researchers compared the risk from alcohol and health risks like high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. 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 early lifestyle.
“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,” said Pavla Kadlecová, M.Sc., a statistician at St. Anne’s University Hospital’s International Clinical Research Center in the Czech Republic.
The researchers recommend avoiding more than 2 drinks per day as regular drinking of any kind of alcohol raises blood pressure and cause heart failure or irregular heartbeats over time with repeated drinking, in addition to stroke and other risks.