Page last updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
A study of young women reported in the January issue of Stroke, the Journal of the American Heart Association by Ann Malarcher et al, has found that light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of ischemic stroke in young women.Researchers surveyed 244 women between the ages of 15 and 44 who had suffered an ischemic stroke within the last year, as well as 392 women of the same ages who had not had strokes. Ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking a brain artery.

To asses alcohol consumption patterns, researchers conducted interviews asking how often, how recently and in what quantities the women had consumed light beer, wine or hard liquor. Blood tests were also conducted. Many studies have indicated the protective effect of moderate alcohol use, but here researchers looked specifically at young white and black women, and the type of alcohol used.

"The relationship between alcohol and stroke risk had not been explored among young adults, who are more likely to have different patterns of alcohol consumption than older adults," notes Ann Malarcher, Ph.D., the studys lead author and Epidemiologist in the Cardiovascular Health branch of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"Women who drank in the past week, and whose average intake for the week was two alcoholic drinks a day, had an almost 60% lower stroke risk than those who never drank," says Malarcher. "Wine appeared to have beneficial effect, while beer and liquor were not as strongly related to stroke risk." Wine may have additional benefits than other alcoholic beverages because it contains flavonoids - compounds in fruits and vegetables that may protect against heart disease and cancer. But it is also possible that other factors may be responsible for the protection.

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