MONDAY, Aug. 20, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy drinking increases the risk of stroke in Chinese men, a new study finds.
The researchers looked of 64,338 men who were 40 and older and had no history of stroke when first surveyed in 1991.
When a follow-up on the men was conducted between 1999 and 2000, researchers found there had been 3,434 strokes and 1,848 fatal strokes. After they adjusted for factors such as age, body-mass index and geographic variation, the researchers found that higher alcohol consumption was associated with increased stroke risk.
Among men who had one to six drinks per week, the relative stroke risk was 0.92, compared with 1.02 for those who had seven to 20 drinks per week, and 1.22 for those who had more than 21 drinks per week.
The study also found that heavier drinking was associated with increased risk of death from stroke.
"At the top level of alcohol consumption (at least 35 drinks per week), risk of stroke incidence was 22 percent higher, and risk of mortality was 30 percent higher than among nondrinkers," wrote the researchers, led by Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
The study was published online in the journal Annals of Neurology.
In China, stroke is the leading cause of death among men (it kills more than 20 percent of males) and the leading cause of long-term disability. In recent years, there's been an increase in alcohol use in China.
The study authors believe the link between heavy drinking and increased stroke risk isn't limited to Chinese men.
"Our findings are likely to be applicable to men of other ethnicities, because they are based on proven physiological mechanisms," the researchers concluded. "Preventing heavy alcohol consumption (more than 21 drinks per week) among men may be one element of multi-faceted public health strategies to reduce stroke burden in the world."
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.