Bad news for teetotalers (I'm looking at your impossibly youthful face, Ann Romney) — findings from an ongoing study study published today in the unfortunately-named journal Stroke show that women who drink a glass of wine, beer, or cocktail daily were less likely to suffer strokes than women who don't drink at all.
The study followed the health of more than 80,000 women for 26 years, determining that moderate drinking reduced the risk of blood clots, which can cause ischemic stroke, (the most common type of stroke). How does the restorative elixir that is booze have this magical effect, you ask? Researchers determined that alcohol probably (thanks for the certainty, science) boosts the production of HDL, that good cholesterol we hear so much about, and, as we all know from the fancy computer graphics of the inside of a blood vessel in pharmaceutical commercials, more good cholesterol means fewer blood clots. The researchers also found reduced risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by a burst blood vessel in the brain.
Though it'd be tempting to believe that science is winking and smirking when it says "moderate" in its laconic voice, the study followed very few heavy drinkers — about 30 percent said they didn't drink at all and 35 percent reported very low alcohol intake (less than half a glass of wine a day) probably just because they'd succumbed to peer pressure. Only 4 percent said they liked to party with 2 to 3 glasses of wine daily. Because so few of the subjects drank heavily, the study fails to give a reliable picture of what sort of stroke risk exists for heavy drinkers.
Epidemologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital Monik Jimenez who led the study says,"At higher levels, [drinking] can increase blood pressure, potentially increasing the risk of an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, which boosts the risk of stroke." Jimenez warns that the study isn't meant to encourage drinking, adding, "We certainly don't want to advocate initiation of alcohol consumption for those who are non-drinkers."
Certainly not. Just remember: everything in moderation. Except for cookies. Eat all the cookies you want.
Image via Kzenon/Shutterstock.