Young women classified as light alcohol drinkers have a slight decrease in risk of developing chronic hypertension. Those who are heavy drinkers have an increased risk.
United States researchers say the association between alcohol consumption and risk of chronic hypertension in young women follows a J-shaped curve. "Among women who consumed an average 0.26 to 0.50 drinks per day, the risk of developing hypertension was lower by 14 percent compared with non-drinkers," they report.
"An increased risk of hypertension was evident beyond consumption of two drinks per day, but when episodic drinkers were separated from this analysis, elevated risk was evident among regular drinkers who consumed more than 1.5 drinks per day."
Investigators defined episodic drinking as more than 10.5 drinks over three of fewer days per week. They add that they did not observe a beverage-specific effect in their study of 70,891 women aged 25 to 42 years. They also did not observe a positive association between episodic drinking and increased risk.
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University studied a cohort of women from the 1989 Nurses Health Study II. They excluded women with hypertension or other illnesses and those who gave birth during follow-up.
There were 4,188 cases (5.9 percent) of incident hypertension among participants during eight years of follow-up. When investigators adjusted for multiple covariates, they found the association between alcohol use and hypertension followed a J-curve.