MINNEAPOLIS – Young adults who down just one drink a day raise their risk of a stoke by a fifth, a new study warns.
A team from Seoul National University discovered that people who drank the equivalent of just over one alcoholic beverage a day for two years were 20 percent more likely to suffer a stroke. This is comparison to those who drank less than that amount or did not drink at all.
This comes as studies find more and more people are having strokes in their 20s and 30s.
More than 1.5 million 20 to 30-year-olds took part in the six-year study, with 3,153 having a stroke before the end of the analysis. The more years the person drank heavily, the more their stroke risk increased.
“The rate of stroke among young adults has been increasing over the last few decades, and stroke in young adults causes death and serious disability,” says study author Eue-Keun Choi, MD, PhD, of Seoul National University in the Republic of Korea, in a media release. “If we could prevent stroke in young adults by reducing alcohol consumption, that could potentially have a substantial impact on the health of individuals and the overall burden of stroke on society.”
People in their 20s and 30s in a Korean national health database were asked about their drinking habits each year for six years. Every participant reported on how many days a week they drank alcohol, and how many drinks they had each time.
Study authors considered those who drank 105 grams or more a week “moderate or heavy” drinkers. That’s the equivalent of around seven and a half glasses of wine. Light drinkers were those who drank less than the 105 grams.
The risk keeps going up with more heavy drinking
Moderate or heavy drinkers for two or more years were roughly 20 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who drank lightly or not at all. This risk increased the more years someone drank heavily during the study.
If they drank moderately to heavily for two years, they had a 19-percent higher risk of stroke. After three years, this went up to 22 percent and 23 percent after four years — even after taking into account other risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking habits, and body mass index (BMI).
The link was due to a higher chance of hemorrhagic stroke — a stroke resulting from bleeding in the brain.
“Since more than 90% of the burden of stroke overall can be attributed to potentially modifiable risk factors, including alcohol consumption, and since stroke in young adults severely impacts both the individual and society by limiting their activities during their most productive years, reducing alcohol consumption should be emphasized in young adults with heavy drinking habits as part of any strategy to prevent stroke,” Dr. Choi concludes.
The study published in the journal Neurology was limited by only including Korean people, meaning the risk may not transfer to other races and ethnicities. Participants also filled out the questionnaires and may have forgotten how much alcohol they drank.
South West News Service writer Pol Allingham contributed to this report.