Just one alcoholic drink a day could lead to an increased risk of having a stroke according to the results of a large-scale study published in the medical journal The Lancet.31772-0/fulltext)
The findings contradict some previous studies that have suggested moderate drinking can be good for your health.
The researchers used data from 160,000 Chinese adults over ten years but claim the findings are relevant to all populations.
Experts say East Asian populations are particularly suitable for such research because, due to a genetic variant that reduces tolerance to alcohol, it is easier to find non-drinkers.
The authors claimed that it would be impossible to do such a study in Western populations because very few people would have the relevant genetic variants.
No evidence of benefit from moderate drinking
The survey found that one to two drinks a day increased the risk of having a stroke by 10-15%, and that risk was increased to 35% at four drinks per day.
“The key message here is that, at least for stroke, there is no protective effect of moderate drinking,” said Zhengming Chen, a professor at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Population Health who co-led the research. “The genetic evidence shows the protective effect is not real.”
Europe has the highest per person alcohol consumption in the world, even though it has dropped by around 10% since 2010, WHO says, and current trends point to a global rise in per capita consumption in the next 10 years.