Looking forward to kicking back a few beers during the Super Bowl? And on Saturday? And tonight? Here's some news that could give those who have more than two drinks a day on a regular basis pause. Using 43 years of data on 11,644 same-sex Swedish twins, researchers report in the American Heart Association journal Stroke that "heavy" drinking raises one's risk of stroke as much as diabetes and high blood pressure. And it didn't take much to reach the "heavy" label, defined as exceeding two drinks a day. Those who average more than two daily saw a stroke risk 34% higher than those who averaged less than half a drink a day, reports HealthDay News.
"Our study showed that drinking more than two drinks per day can shorten time to stroke by about five years," the lead author said. This was true regardless of genetic and other lifestyle factors. "It's important to be aware that [drinking is] not as benign as we thought," a neurosurgeon not involved in the study tells NBC News. "Its protective range is only within the two drinks for men and one for women." It remains unclear precisely how alcohol increases one's risk of stroke, but alcohol is known to elevate blood pressure and thin blood; the latter could up the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. (Meanwhile, the worst binge drinkers aren't college kids.)