Drinking alcohol and exposure to second hand smoke use both raise the risk of liver disease, but the combination of the two together has a much greater risk; according to research. While second hand smoke and drinking alcohol can each cause the scarring that leads to cirrhosis of the liver separately, when the two substances are experiences together the harmful effects are compounded.
A new study has found evidence that alcohol and tobacco smoke are worse for health as a combination, according to Associate Professor Shannon Bailey, PhD., University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB), Department of Environment Health Sciences.
The UAB study about the detrimental effect of the combination of tobacco smoke and alcohol has been published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine.
Bailey went on to state that the new date about the combined effect of tobacco smoke and alcohol is significant because of its potential impact upon public health.
Cirrhosis of the liver is scarring of the liver. A normal liver detoxifies the harmful substances in the body, purifies blood and make vital nutrients. The liver may be able to repair itself after mild damage, but as more scar tissue forms the liver loses its ability to function and repair itself.
In the experiment ith second hand smoke and alcohol consumption, the mice developed liver fibrosis, which is scar-like tissue that can lead to cirrhosis.
1. Mice that were exposed to second hand smoke and drank ethanol had 110 % more liver fibrosis proteins than the mice that breathed filtered air while drinking.
2. Mice that breathed smoke filled air and drank alchohol had 65 percent more liver fibrosis than mice that ere exposed to smoke but did not drink.
Additionally, the twice-exposed mice had 65 percent more liver fibrosis proteins than mice who breathed smoky air but did not drink ethanol.
In 2007, the same University of Alabama Birmingham researchers that conducted this study found, that a combination of alcohol and second-hand smoke increased signs of heart disease in experiments on mice.
According to the American Cancer Society, second hand smoke is a public health threat that kills 53,000 non-smoking Americans every year. Second hand smoke is known as a risk for heart disease, lung cancer, and low birth weight and lung ailments.
Second hand smoke is exposure to tobacco smoke from other people. While smoking is someone else’s habit, it has an impact upon the people around them and can harm the health of innocent bystanders, family members, friends and children. In some, but not all cases, being around a smoker is a health risk that people can avoid by avoiding the smoker. Not everyone is able to just leave, such as in the case of children that live in a home where a parent smokes and puts the health of the entire family at risk.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking alcohol to excess is considered the third leading cause of death that is preventable in the U.S. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism is a problem that costs the user that everyone associated with the user in last man hours, health, medical expenses and overall quality of life.
Research from UAB suggests that the combination of second hand smoke and drinking alcohol compounds the detrimental effect of these behaviors upon health. The cost of addiction to cigarettes and alcohol are already staggering, but it appears that when the two addictions are combined the effects are magnified to cause serious liver damage that may lead to cirrhosis.
UAB Media Relations: Tobacco Smoke and Alcohol Harm Liver Worse as Combination, EurekAlert. February 7, 2009.
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