Boozing on a daily basis could cause changes in the composition of your breath, potentially leading to an increased risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases, according to new research. Appearing in the latest issue of the journal Chest, the study reveals how people classed as “excessive drinkers” have considerably lower levels of nitric oxide in their breath, which could lead to their airways becoming inflamed or prone to infection.
Nitric oxide is a major mediator of the inflammatory proteins and compounds produced in the human lung, and abnormal levels of this vital gas are seen as a key predictor to certain respiratory disorders, most notably asthma. On top of this, it is also toxic to many bacteria, and therefore helps to protect the respiratory system from infection.
Though some small-scale studies have shown that drinking alcohol – and in particular, wine – can worsen the symptoms of asthma, little research has so far been conducted into how booze affects nitric oxide levels.
To conduct their investigation, the study authors interviewed 12,059 people about their levels of alcohol consumption, using this to classify them as never drinkers, non-excessive drinkers, or excessive drinkers – meaning those who consume alcohol on a daily basis.
When measuring the nitric oxide concentrations in participants’ breath, the researchers discovered that levels decreased noticeably across categories of increasing alcohol use. Amazingly, nitric oxide levels were 21.3 percent lower for excessive drinkers than for never drinkers.
Though the team have not yet carried out any further research into whether or not excessive drinkers actually experience more respiratory disorders than other groups, lead author Majid Afshar certainly thinks this could be a possibility, explaining in a statement that “alcohol appears to disrupt the healthy balance in the lung.”
Given that 26.9 percent of participants in the study – all of whom were from the US – were classified as excessive drinkers, this finding could indicate that there are a hell of a lot of Americans with an increased risk of asthma and other lung diseases.