Blood pressure and the risk of stroke increase steadily with increasing alcohol intake, even for moderate consumption, according to a large genetic study in The Lancet.
This runs counter to previous research suggesting that one or two drinks a day is “heart healthy.”
Previous studies have suggested that consuming small amounts of alcohol may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, others indicate that the only safe level of alcohol consumption is zero.
Experts say the new research points to the potential harms of drinking alcohol, at any level. But the study is not the final word on the subject.
Researchers from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, followed more than 500,000 people for about 10 years.
They monitored participants for cardiovascular incidents such as stroke or heart attack.
The results show that men who consumed four drinks a day had on average a 38 percent higher risk of stroke.
Stroke risk increased steadily from low levels of alcohol intake to four drinks per day, the range of consumption studied by the researchers.