A large study in China suggests that stroke risk in men increases with heavy alcohol consumption. Researchers therefore recommend that this group be targeted for prevention strategies.
Published in the Annals of Neurology, the study involved 64,338 men aged 40 and over who participated in a national hypertension survey in 1991, who had never suffered from a stroke.
Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University and colleagues followed up on the men in 1999 and 2000, and found that 3,434 had had strokes and of these, 1,848 had died.
Further analysis showed the risk of stroke incidence was 22% higher and risk of mortality 30% higher among men who drank the most - or at least 35 drinks a week - compared with non-drinkers.
Stroke is the leading cause of death in China and accounts for more than 20% of mortality among men. Although the survey involved only Chinese, the findings were likely to be applicable to men of other ethnicities, the researchers state.
After taking into account factors such as age, body mass index and geographic variation, they found the risk of stroke was still higher among those who drank more.
The relative stroke risk was less than for abstainers (0.92%) for participants who had one to six drinks per week, equal to abstainers for those who consumed seven to 20 drinks per week and 1.22% for those consuming more than 21 drinks per week, echoing many studies J shaped curve with a relative risk increasing at consumption levels at above 20 drinks a week.
Source: Bazzano, L.A., et al. (2007) Alcohol consumption and risk for stroke among Chinese men. Annals of Neurology, published online 20 Aug 2007; doi: 10.1002/ana.21194.