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Moderate Drinking May Cut Stroke Risk

<i> From staff and wire reports</i>

Moderate consumption of alcohol may reduce the risk of suffering one type of stroke while heavy drinking may greatly increase the chances of suffering another kind, cardiologists at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland reported last week in the journal Stroke.

In a study of 100,000 California men and women, researchers found that those who consumed fewer than three alcoholic drinks a day appeared to be at a reduced risk of suffering a type of stroke caused by blood clots plugging an artery supplying the brain. However, people who consumed more than three drinks a day were four times as likely as those who drink less to have a more severe stroke in which brain hemorrhaging or bleeding occurs, the study found.

Strokes occur when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, either by blockage of a vessel or bleeding. Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells in the affected area of the brain die within minutes.

“There is nothing in this study to justify heavy drinking,” said Dr. Arthur L. Klatsky. “What this means is that heavy drinkers should cut down, there’s no reason for (those) who drink moderately and are in control of their drinking to change their habits and those who don’t drink . . . should not drink to prevent a stroke,” he said.

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