Alcohol and Emphysema

Research Inconclusive Regarding Alcohol and Emphysema

Emphysema, also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is mostly caused from smoking. Many who suffer from emphysema have asked the question, “Can I drink alcohol after being diagnosed?” Some research has been done on the subject, but it has been difficult to come to a solid conclusion as to whether or not alcohol is harmful for a person suffering from lung disease. “This is a new area of interest, but so far the studies we have aren’t consistent,” says Bohdan Pichurko, MD, a pulmonary specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. One thing that all researchers can agree on, however, is that prolonged heavy drinking is detrimental to one’s health, with or without lung disease.

According to an article in About Health, chronic drinking alone does not directly result in lung damage, rather, drinking coupled with oxidative stress causes damage to a person’s lungs. Oxidative stress occurs when a person is exposed to cigarette smoke, air pollution or dangerous chemicals. Drinking alcohol reduces your lungs’ capacity to handle these airway irritants, which is what makes drinking and smoking together so dangerous. An article published by Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reveals that heavy drinking over a long period of time can predispose someone to develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is a deadly lung disease that typically stems from a sickness or bodily trauma. Heavy drinkers are at a greater risk for developing ARDS.

Increased Risk of ARDS

Drinking alcohol increases a person’s risk for ARDS because it greatly reduces the amount of the antioxidant glutathione in a person’s lungs. According to an article by Emory University, the less glutathione a person has in their lungs, the more difficult it is for the body to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream. This puts a person at risk for ARDS. ARDS is a serious disease that can result in death. In the article, David Guidot, director of the Emory Alcohol and Lung Biology Center at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) notes that more alcoholics actually die from lung damage over liver damage.

Wine in Moderation Might Have its Benefits

If you enjoy drinking in moderation and have been diagnosed with emphysema, your best bet is to drink wine. An article from the American Clinical and Climatological Association describes how drinking wine in moderation may actually help improve pulmonary function.  This is because the antioxidant resveratrol that is found in wine has several anti-inflammatory properties. The key is moderate consumption – no more than 1-2 drinks in one setting.

The study does note, however, that wine might not be the only reason for better health.  “’Wine-only’ consumption may be associated with ‘beneficial’ life style factors including lower weight and body mass index, higher educational level, healthier diet and less smoking.” While wine does contain antioxidants that doesn’t exist in other forms of alcohol, it’s important to consider an overall healthy lifestyle when making comparisons.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with emphysema and you’re interested in learning more about how stem cell therapy can help, contact the Lung Institute or call (800) 729-3065 today.

* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

Under current FDA guidelines and regulations 1271.10 and 1271.15, the Lung Institute complies with all necessary requirements for operation. Any individual who accesses Lung Institute's website for information is encouraged to speak with his or her primary physician for treatment suggestions and conclusive evidence. All information on this site should be used for educational and informational use only.