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Teetotalers, Moderate Drinkers 43% Less Risk

With all the ballyhoo over the heart health benefits of moderate wine consumption it’s easy to lose sight of the much larger health risks of heavy alcohol consumption–such as dramatically increased stroke risk. Harvard researchers found that men who consume an average of three or more alcoholic beverages a day were nearly 43% more likely to suffer a stroke when compared to abstainers and men who had one to two drinks/day.

Every year roughly 700,000 Americans suffer what’s called an ischemic stroke. Excessive drinking is associated with higher blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms, both of which could increase the likelihood of the kind of “brain attack” that occurs when a blood clot blocks a neural artery. While the study did not demonstrate any statistically significant stroke protection from light drinking, it did highlight one more danger of a heavy drinking pattern.

As explored in the DNN‘s “Don’t Let the Good Be an Ally of the Bad,” if a little is good, a lot is not necessarily better. Nowhere is this more applicable than with alcohol! In fact, excessive drinking affects women even more significantly than it affects men. Up to 4% of breast cancers can be attributed to alcohol, while a recent study in the British Journal of Cancer found that every drink increases a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. Hard stuff is harder on “her” when it comes to developing dependency and losing brain volume.

Not only can too many Mojitos bust your calorie budget, binge drinking could lead to bigger waistlines, according to one University of Buffalo study. Seniors need to take particular care, as the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol declines with age, and lingering alcohol in the system could interfere with medication.

Published October 1, 2006

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