Background and purpose: Alcohol consumption has been associated with a protective effect on risk of ischemic stroke. There may, however, be differences in the effect of beer, wine, and spirits due to properties other than ethanol, a topic that has gained only little attention in stroke research.
Methods: Our analysis was a prospective cohort study of 13 329 eligible men and women, aged 45 to 84 years, participating in the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Information on alcohol habits and a number of socioeconomic and health-related factors was obtained at baseline. During 16 years of follow-up, 833 first-ever strokes occurred. Data were analyzed by means of multiple Poisson regression.
Results: We found indications of a U-shaped relation between intake of alcohol and risk of stroke. In analyses adjusted for age, sex, and smoking, intake of wine on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis was associated with a lower risk of stroke compared with no wine intake (monthly: relative risk [RR], 0. 83; 95% CI, 0.69 to 0.98; weekly: RR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.77; daily: RR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.46 to 1.00). This effect of wine intake remained after complete adjustment for confounding variables (monthly: RR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.70 to 1.02; weekly: RR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.50 to 0.88; daily: RR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.45 to 1.02). There was no association between intake of beer or spirits on risk of stroke.
Conclusions: The differences in the effects of beer, wine, and spirits on the risk of stroke suggest that compounds in the wine in addition to ethanol are responsible for the protective effect on risk of stroke.