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Women’s Blood Pressure Drops with a Few Drinks a Week
 By Melissa Schorr        

       A few drinks  a week may slightly reduce a woman’s chance of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension ,but consuming more than a drink a day puts her at increased risk, Harvard researchers report.

"Women who drink on, average about 3 drinks a week had a 15% reduced risk of developing chronic hypertension ,but women who drank 10 to 12 drinks a week had a 30% increased risk of developing chronic hypertension, " Dr. Ravi Thadhani, an assistant professor of medicine, at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, told Reuters Health.

         The researchers looked at alcohol intake and subsequent high blood pressure reported by more than 70, 000 enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study,  a long-term study following the health of more than l00, 000 women. “It’s known that alcohol consumption in excess can lead to increased risk in heart attacks, strokes  and high blood pressure but what is not known is the effect at light to moderate levels, "  Thadhani said. "What we were hoping to do was look at how alcohol affects blood pressure in young women ages 20 to 40. "

The researchers followed the women for 8 years to see whether they developed hypertension, taking into account other factors known to be associated with high blood pressure, such as weight, physical activity, age, smoking and the use of oral contraceptives. The findings are published in the March 11th issue of  the Archives of Internal 



Medicine.  The researchers found  that women who reported drinking around half a drink a day, or three drinks on average each week, had a 15% lower chance of developing chronic high blood pressure than women who abstained from drinking altogether.  By contrast, women who drank more than 1.5 drinks a day, or more than 10 drinks weekly, had a 30% increased chance of developing chronic high blood pressure.

Thadhani noted that moderate amounts of alcohol may relax blood vessels, thus reducing the chance of developing high blood pressure, while high levels of alcohol may injure those vessels, boosting high blood pressure risk. The investigators also examined whether the type of alcohol consumed made a difference. They found that the higher consumption of beer, wine and hard liquor seemed equally harmful. Light beer drinking seemed to be the most beneficial form of alcohol in reducing the risk of high blood pressure.














































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