breathPinExcessive alcohol consumption in daily life has many consequences. Alcohol consumption is a leading factor in social, behavioral and medical problems. A New Study shows a connection between Alcohol Consumption and declined breathing. The study published in Chest magazine was led by Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago and is the first evidence of a connection between alcohol consumption and breathing. The significance of the study is bigger than most realize.

The Study Participants

Over five years between 2007 and 2012 over 12,000 participants, aged 21 to 79 years of age, were interviewed about their alcohol consumption. The study researchers examined data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) of the over 12,000 participants. The study grouped the participants by the amount of alcohol consumption. The excessive drinkers were either women who drink one or more a day or men who drink more than two drinks a day according to the study researchers. Excessive alcohol consumers accounted for 26.9% of total participants.

The Evidence

According to the lead author of the study and pulmonologist at Loyola Medicine, Majid Afshar, MD, MSCR, “Alcohol appears to disrupt the healthy balance in the lung”. He is one of 50 researchers who looked closely at the connection between excessive alcohol consumption and the effect on multiple organ systems of the body.

The Study researchers took into account lung health issues of the participants. Lung health conditions like, asthma, smoking, and other demographics were taken into consideration when the researchers evaluated the data. It became evident that the nitric oxide levels in excessive drinkers were lower. The more alcohol consumed by a participant the lower the nitric oxide in the lungs.

Why is Nitric Oxide important?

Nitric Oxide is the body’s communicator between cells. It is produced in perspiration during exercise. Nitric Oxide relaxes muscles, especially in the lungs. Without the optimal of Nitric Oxide the body’s communication between cells is out of whack and the body slows down. Lungs with reduced Nitric Oxide do not function well, expand efficiently and take as much oxygen to the other organ systems.

How the study findings affect Healthcare

  • Physicians who take the findings of the study seriously will be able to take alcohol consumption of patients into account relating to lung function and nitric oxide deprivation.
  • Lung function compromised by excessive drinking and nitric oxide reduction leads to lack of oxygen to all organ systems.
  • Bacterial infections are more common in patients with lower Nitric acid levels.
  • Lung function tests may be inaccurate after consuming alcohol and doctors will have to consider the ramifications.

According to Dr. Afshar, further study of alcohol consumption effects on lungs and organ systems is needed. The study is the first evidence of alcohol consumption having a negative effect on the lungs. It is certain to lead to more studies to identify why alcohol affects the lungs and what other effects excessive alcohol consumption has on other body functions.

  • It is evident that excessive alcohol consumption is connected to birth defects, impaired thinking, sleep, aging, mind-set, diminished cardiac function and anxiety disorders.
  • Alcohol directly affects the body’s organs: liver, brain, heart, stomach, Kidneys, Pancreas and lungs.
  • One in four Americans is thought to be excessive drinkers. Alcohol-related deaths account for over six a day according to an article written by Samantha Olson.

In this recent study by professors and researchers at Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago the first real evidence has been discovered that excessive alcohol consumption affects the lungs and contributes to a decline breathing. Health professionals have new evidence in identifying patients at risk for alcohol consumption related breathing problems.