MODERATE drinking does not protect against strokes, experts claims.
Previous research has found a daily glass of beer or wine slashed risk by around 12 per cent.
Getty – Contributor New research found that moderate drinking does increase the risk of a stroke
But new evidence “robustly” shows sensible drinkers are kidding themselves by thinking their habit cuts stroke chances.
A genetic study by Oxford University involving 160,000 adults shows low-level boozing actually raises the chance of harm.
And the more alcohol people consume the greater their risk, according to The Lancet research.
UK drinking guidelines were revised in 2016, with officials recommending no more than 14 units of alcohol weekly – roughly six pints of beer, or six standard glasses of wine.
Experts calculate drinking at this level makes a stroke between ten and 15 per cent more likely.
Researchers also found consuming more alcohol raised blood pressure – and suspect this may be to blame.
But the team found no evidence moderate boozing impacted on heart attack risk.
Researcher Professor Zhengming Chen, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, 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.”
The team compared Chinese men who had one, two or no copies of a faulty gene that makes drinking unpleasant.They were then able to calculate the impact booze had on stroke risk.
Getty – Contributor Moderate drinking was defined as the UK Government’s recommended maximum of 14 units of alcohol a week
Professor Sir Richard Peto, Co-Director of the Clinical Trial Service Unit at Oxford
University, said the “elegant study” finally answered whether moderate drinking prevented attacks.
He said the findings were not intended to put Brits off drinking – and said smoking and blood pressure had a much bigger impact on risk.
Sir Richard said: “I think this study is really beautiful. I don’t think people are going to change what they drink due to these results.
“It is not a thrilling public health message. But we have got the truth about a story that has been a myth for ages.”
A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or internal bleeding.
Every year more than 150,000 Brits have an attack – and it is the leading cause of complex disability.
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Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said: “When it comes to alcohol, you can’t separate your heart health from your overall health.
“Drinking alcohol increases the risk of circulatory conditions, such as vascular dementia, as well as some cancers.
“This study confirms that drinking more alcohol also increases the risk of stroke. The link between alcohol and heart attack risk is less clear but this study, along with others, suggests moderate drinking has little effect.”
Moderate boozing could help boost brain power
Scientists from Queen’s University Belfast people who stuck to the Med diet and enjoyed small amounts of alcohol were 52 per cent less likely to have poor thinking and memory skills than junk food fans.
Researcher Claire McEvoy said: “It’s possible that moderate alcohol consumption as part of a healthy diet could be important for brain health in middle age, but further research is needed to confirm these findings.
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