Even one to two alcoholic drink every day may increase blood pressure and the risk of having a stroke warns a study published in The Lancet journal. The study that followed 500,000 Chinese people for 10 years, counters previous claims that one or two drinks a day could be protective.
The findings are relevant to all populations and the best evidence yet on the direct effects of alcohol, researchers said.
The researchers, from the University of Oxford, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, found that drinking one to two alcoholic drinks every day increased stroke risk by 10-15 per cent.
Drinking four drinks every day increased the risk of having a stroke by 35 per cent, BBC reported.
"It is very roughly the opposite effect of taking a statin, which are drugs prescribed by doctors to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood and prevent heart attacks and strokes," said Professor David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge.
The study also found no evidence of light or moderate drinking having a protective effect, in other words, reducing the risk of stroke.
When it came to the effect of alcohol on heart attack risk, the researchers said the effects were not clear cut and more data needed to be collected over the next few years.
"Claims that wine and beer have magical protective effects is not borne out," said Richard Peto, a professor at the University of Oxford.