No health protection from alcohol -- but heavy drinkers face risk of stroke

June 25, 1999

Alcohol consumption and mortality from all causes, coronary heart disease, and stroke: results from a prospective cohort study of Scottish men with 21 years of follow up

A large-scale long-term study of working men in Scotland, reported in this week's BMJ, found no support for the theory that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol has any protective effect on health. But men drinking more than 35 units of alcohol a week were twice as likely to die from a stroke.

Carole Hart and co authors studied 5,766 men from various workplaces in Glasgow, Clydebank and Grangemouth over a 21 year period. For non drinkers and moderate drinkers (up to 14 units of alcohol a week) the risk of any cause of death was similar, but the risk of dying was higher for men drinking more than 22 units a week - the equivalent of 11 pints of beer a week or half a bottle of wine a day.

This study measured a wide range of socioeconomic variables and other factors, such as smoking habits, which could affect results. Unlike other studies that found a protective effect of alcohol for coronary heart disease, the researchers found no apparent relation between alcohol consumption and risk of death from coronary heart disease.

In contrast they found a strong relation with risk of dying from stroke. The BMJ report states "Drinkers of over 35 units a week had double the risk of mortality (from stroke) compared with non drinkers."
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Contact:

Professor George Davey Smith, Dept Social Medicine, University of Bristol



BMJ

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