Alcohol has it negative and its positive attributes. Now drinking alcohol in moderate quantities can possibly reduce the risk of asthma, according to Danish researchers. The study, which will be presented September 25, 2011) at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Amsterdam, found that drinking 1—6 units of alcohol a week could reduce the risk of developing the condition. The research examined 19,349 twins between the ages of 12 and 41 yrs of age. All participants completed a questionnaire at the start and end of the study to compare alcohol intake with the risk of developing asthma over 8 years.
The results showed that the lowest risk of asthma was seen in the group which had a moderate intake of alcohol, as less than 4% of those who drank 1—6 units per week developed asthma.
The highest risk of asthma was observed in people who drunk rarely or never, as they were 1.4-times more likely to develop the condition. Heavy drinkers also had an increased risk of asthma development and were 1.2-times more likely to develop asthma.
The results also suggested that a preference for beer drinking was associated with an increased risk of asthma when compared with no preference.
Previous studies have found a link between excessive intake of alcohol and asthma attacks; however, this is the first study of its kind to show a link between alcohol intake and the onset of asthma for adults over a long period of time.
Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
It is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Treatment of acute symptoms is usually with an inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonist. Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding triggers, such as allergens and irritants, and by inhaling corticosteroids. Leukotriene antagonists are less effective than corticosteroids and thus less preferred.
The prevalence of asthma has increased significantly since the 1970s. As of 2010, 300 million people were affected worldwide.
Sofie Lieberoth, from the Bispebjerg Hospital in Denmark, said: "Whilst excessive alcohol intake can cause health problems, the findings of our study suggest that a moderate intake of 1—6 units can reduce the risk of developing asthma. By examining all the factors linked with the development of asthma, we can understand more about what causes the condition and how to prevent it."
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