According to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), exposure to second hand smoke, combined with drinking alcohol may increase the risk of liver disease by stimulating higher levels of proteins in the blood that lead to cirrhosis. The study appears in the journal Free Radical Biology & Medicine.
According to Shannon Bailey, Ph.D., an associate professor in the UAB Department of Environmental Health Sciences and a co-lead author on the study, "This new data is a significant finding considering the combined effect of alcohol and cigarette smoke exposures, and the implications for public health."
The researcher exposed mice to smoke in the laboratory, and put ethanol in the liquid diet fed to the mice during the research.
The study results showed that the mice given alcohol, and exposed to second-hand smoke had 110 percent more liver fibrosis proteins than the mice given purified air. Fibrosis of the liver causes scar tissue in the liver that can lead to cirrhosis.
Additionally, the mice had 65 percent more liver fibrosis proteins than mice that breathed smoky air but did not drink ethanol, after two exposures to second hand smoke.
A 2007 study, also from University of Alabama showed an increased risk of heart disease from second hand smoke combined with alcohol.
Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the US, according to the CDC. Second-hand smoke kills 5300 non-smokers in America annually, promotes heart disease, chronic respiratory ailments, and lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Now we find that the combination of alcohol and second-hand smoke may increase our risk of liver diease.
The study concludes that health risks stack up. The current study shows us that a combination of factors, such as second hand smoke combined with alcohol consumption, pose significantly greater health dangers than singular risky health behaviors.
The current study shows that second hand smoke, combined with alcohol consumption, may contribute greatly to an individual’s risk of liver fibrosis, leading to cirrhosis of the liver.
Tobacco Smoke and Alcohol Harm Liver Worse as Combo