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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 13:47 GMT
'Heavier drinkers risk strokes'
Image of drinks
Men should not have more than two alcoholic drinks per day
Men who drink heavily are at increased risk of stroke, research shows.

But lighter drinkers, particularly those who have a glass of red wine each day, reduce their risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

The findings, based on about 38,000 men, support advice that men should drink no more than two drinks per day.

The Harvard University research appears in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Safe limits

Men who consumed an average of three or more alcoholic drinks (in US measures, which are larger than UK measures) were nearly 45% more likely to suffer a stroke compared with non-drinkers.

In comparison, lighter drinkers appeared to reduce their risk of stroke.

Alcohol consumption was categorised as light (0.1 to 9.9 g per day, or less than one drink daily), moderate (10.0 to 29.9 g per day, or one to two drinks daily), and heavier (30.0 g per day, or three drinks daily).

Dr Kenneth Mukamal, lead researcher, said: "The participants who were at lowest risk for stroke were the men who consumed one or two drinks on three to four days of the week."

These men had a 32% lower stroke risk than non-drinkers.

This supported the researchers' previous findings with respect to drinking pattern and risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Consuming three drinks in the US equates approximately to six drinks in the UK
A spokeswoman from The Stroke Association

Dr Mukamal said: "Among all three types of disease, the lowest risk seems to occur when consumption is limited to one or, at most, two drinks, approximately every other day, with little benefit shown above three to four drinking days per week."

Red wine appeared to offer more protection than other alcoholic beverages.

Drinking one or more glass of red wine per day was linked to a 46% lower risk of stroke, although few men in the study did so.

The news comes as a top medical group warned that plans to allow 24-hour drinking in the UK can only increase the cost of alcohol-fuelled harm to the NHS.

The Royal College of Physicians' licensing committee chairman, Professor Ian Gilmore, said one out of every four people in Britain were now drinking at potentially hazardous rates.

A spokeswoman from The Stroke Association said: "A standard measure of alcohol in the US at 14g is almost double that of a UK pub measure of 8g.

RECOMMENDED LEVELS OF ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
Women can drink 2-3 units of alcohol per day
Men can drink 3-4 units a day
Two to three alcohol-free days a week are also recommended
Source: The government

"Therefore, consuming three drinks in the US equates approximately to six drinks in the UK."

The Stroke Association considers binge drinking to be defined as consuming six units of alcohol in six hours or one night.

"The Stroke Association, therefore, welcomes any new research into the link between alcohol and stroke," she said.


SEE ALSO:
NHS fear over 24-hour drink plans
03 Jan 05 |  Politics


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