Just one alcoholic drink a day could raise blood pressure: Study
A new international study suggests that just one alcoholic drink a day could raise a person’s blood pressure.
Researchers said people should avoid alcohol altogether after finding that routinely drinking, even in small quantities, can increase a person’s blood pressure, according to the Independent.
While the largest increases were seen among heavy drinkers, the international team of academics were “surprised” to find that drinking at low levels also had an effect.
The study, published in the Hypertension – an American Heart Association journal, saw researchers examine data from seven international studies on drinking and high blood pressure.
The studies involved more than 19,548 people from the US, Korea and Japan who were tracked for at least five years.
When a person’s blood pressure is too high it puts extra strain on blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
Persistent high blood pressure can lead to a number of serious health problems including heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia.
Senior study author Professor Marco Vinceti from the medical school of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia University in Italy and an adjunct professor at Boston University’s school of public health said: “We found no beneficial effects in adults who drank a low level of alcohol compared to those who did not drink alcohol.
Even a little alcohol harms health
After decades of confusing and sometimes contradictory research in the West, which stated too much alcohol is bad for you but a little bit is good, recent studies prove even small amounts of alcohol can have health consequences.
Research published in November revealed that between 2015 and 2019, excessive alcohol use resulted in roughly 140,000 deaths per year in the United States.
About 40 percent of those deaths had acute causes, like car crashes, poisonings and homicides. But the majority were caused by chronic conditions attributed to alcohol, such as liver disease, cancer and heart disease.
When experts talk about the dire health consequences linked to excessive alcohol use, people often assume that it’s directed at individuals who have an alcohol use disorder. But the health risks from drinking can come from moderate consumption as well.
“Risk starts to go up well below levels where people would think, ‘Oh, that person has an alcohol problem,’” Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, told the New York Times.
“Alcohol is harmful to the health starting at very low levels,” Naim said.
Why is alcohol so harmful?
Scientists think that the main way alcohol causes health problems is by damaging DNA. When you drink alcohol, your body metabolizes it into acetaldehyde, a chemical that is toxic to cells.
Acetaldehyde both “damages your DNA and prevents your body from repairing the damage,” said Marissa Esser, who leads the alcohol program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Once your DNA is damaged, then a cell can grow out of control and create a cancer tumor,” she said.
Alcohol also creates oxidative stress, another form of DNA damage that can be particularly harmful to the cells that line blood vessels. Oxidative stress can lead to stiffened arteries, resulting in higher blood pressure and coronary artery disease.