Heavy alcohol consumption has significantly different effects on heart and stroke risk in men and women, according to a study conducted in Japan.
The results suggest that "an amount of alcohol that may be beneficial for men is not good for women at all," Dr Hiroyasu Iso, from Osaka University, said in a statement.
In the study, men who were heavy drinkers, consuming 46 grams or more of alcohol per day (equal to four or more standard alcoholic beverages) were somewhat less likely to die from heart disease compared with their non-drinking peers. In women, by contrast, drinking this amount increased death from heart disease substantially.
In both sexes, however, light-to-moderate drinking (up to about 3 drinks per day) seems to reduce death from cardiovascular disease, according to the report in the journal Stroke.
To look for possible gender-related differences in the effects of alcohol consumption, Iso and colleagues surveyed the lifestyle and health of 34 776 men and 48 906 women and then followed them for a median of about 14 years.
During follow-up, 1 628 of the study subjects died from stroke and 736 died from heart disease.
Heavy drinking ups death risk
In men, heavy alcohol consumption, relative to non-drinking, increased death from any stroke by 48 percent, hemaorrhagic (bleeding) stroke by 67 percent, and ischaemic stroke, the kind caused by a blocked blood vessel supplying the brain, by 35 percent, but cut death from heart disease by 19 percent. Light-to-moderate drinking cut death from cardiovascular disease by 12 percent.
In women, heavy drinking increased the risk of death from any stroke by 92 percent, hemaorrhagic stroke by 61 percent, ischaemic stroke by 143 percent, and heart disease 310 percent. Light-to-moderate drinking reduced death from cardiovascular disease by 25 percent. - (Reuters Health)
SOURCE: Stroke, online July 10, 2008.
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