Although the protective effects of alcohol consumption against future cardiovascular disease have been published, the effects of alcohol on stroke risk remain controversial.
We assessed the effects of alcohol consumption on stroke risk in a poorly educated, low-income population in rural China. Between 1991 and 2018, a population-based cohort study was conducted in rural Tianjin, China, to examine stroke risk. All registered stroke events were clinically verified using available computed tomography or MRI scans. The stroke risk was analyzed, according to the extent of alcohol consumption, using Cox regression analyses.
We identified 352 incident stroke events among male participants during the study period. The stroke incidences (per 100,000 person-years) were 965.3 overall, 575.9 for ischemic stroke events, 208.4 for hemorrhagic stroke events, and 181.0 for undefined stroke events. Overall, alcohol consumption provided a 32% reduction in the total stroke risk. Low-dose alcohol consumption (≤12 g/day) showed a negative association with total (hazard ratio [HR], 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46-0.88; p = 0.008) and ischemic (HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.44-0.98; p = 0.039) strokes. Alcohol consumption was not significantly associated with hemorrhagic strokes. After age stratification, alcohol consumption was protective against total and ischemic strokes in men aged ≥55 years old, with the risk of each stroke type decreasing by 46 and 49%, respectively. Low-dose alcohol consumption was inversely associated with both total and ischemic stroke risks, with the risks decreasing by 56 and 65%, respectively. Alcohol consumption was not significantly associated with strokes among men aged <55 years old.
These findings suggest that low-dose alcohol consumption may decrease the risk of ischemic strokes among men. Even so, the adverse effects of alcohol on the liver and pancreas cannot be ignored. Additionally, the effects of alcohol consumption on stroke risk vary with age, protecting against ischemic and total strokes among males ≥55 years old. Nevertheless, recommending light drinking and its potential health benefits should not be generalized to men of all ages.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.