Effects Of Light Drinking

Several studies have shown regular light (10-20 g of ethanol daily) or moderate (less than 300 g of ethanol per week) drinking to associate with a decreased risk for ischemic stroke of atherothrombotic origin [43-45], but the observations on the effects of light and moderate alcohol consumption on stroke mortality have been conflicting [27,46,47], For example, one study showed light-to-moderate drinking to be associated with a 36% reduction in deaths from ischemic heart disease, but had no effect on death from stroke [47], A recent study [48] reported that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption reduces the overall risk of stroke and the risk of ischemic stroke in men. The benefit was apparent with as little as one drink per week. More abundant consumption, up to one drink per day, did not increase the observed benefit.

Several possible mechanisms have been proposed to explain the beneficial effect oflight-to-moderate alcohol consumption [49], However, almost all of the proposed mechanisms are unable to explain a protective effect with such small amounts of alcohol as a few drinks per week. The only exception could be the increasing effect of alcohol on estrogen levels, which protects against atherogenesis. On the other hand, accurate and reliable data on alcohol consumption are hard to find in epidemiological studies, because drinking patterns have usually not been inquired.

In fact, some investigators have pointed out that there is no convincing evidence to show that light or moderate drinking is protective against stroke [50], Nor does light-to-moderate drinking seem to protect against mortality from stroke when compared with not drinking [47], Although many studies have taken into account several potential confounding factors, others still exist. The ones that have been poorly controlled include physical activity, psychosocial confounders and dietary factors. For example, it has been observed that moderate drinkers who do not smoke are more likely than nondrinkers to engage in regular leisure time physical activity [5T|. At the moment, we cannot recommend regular drinking of small amounts of alcohol for the prevention of ischemic stroke. We know that any increase in alcohol consumption in a population is associated with a corresponding increase ofheavy drinking, which has untoward consequences.

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