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wineWine May Lower Stroke Risk for Young Women

Sipping a glass or two of wine at dinner might reduce women's risk of stroke, researchers report.

Investigators found that young women who consumed up to two drinks per day were less likely to have an ischemic stroke. This type of stroke is caused by a blood clot that prevents oxygen from reaching the brain.

Research has suggested that moderate drinking reduces the risk of heart problems, but the link between alcohol and stroke is more controversial. Some studies have shown that moderate amounts are beneficial, but that heavier drinking is actually detrimental.

In the current study, women who drank an average of two drinks daily had a 40% to 60% lower risk of stroke compared with women who never drank.

There was no link between heavy drinking and an increased risk of stroke, but the researchers suggest this might be because there were relatively few heavy drinkers in the study.

Wine appeared to be the most protective of all alcoholic beverages, possibly because wine contains flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that may protect against heart disease and cancer. These compounds, which are also found in fruits and vegetables, prevent disease-causing free radicals from damaging cells.

However, women who drank wine were also more likely to be educated, nonsmokers, and to have normal cholesterol. These factors might also contribute to their lower risk of stroke.

The timing of wine consumption may also contribute to a lower risk of stroke. For example, wine is typically consumed with meals and may influence the movement of fats in the blood. But more studies are needed to examine the relationship between wine and stroke risk.

The guidelines from the National Stroke Association recommend that healthy young adults drink in moderation, or no more than two drinks per day. Alcohol should not be encouraged for those who do not already drink.

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