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Excess Alcohol Harms Your Breathing

Excess Alcohol Harms Your Breathing

How long can you hold your breath? One minute? Two maybe? How about 24 minutes and 3 seconds? That’s the world record, set by Spanish free diver Aleix Vendrell in 2016. Now, you may not be shooting for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records with your lung capacity, but you don’t want to have trouble breathing. Well, it turns out that if you’re over-imbibing or binge drinking, you may be damaging your lungs. 

A study published in the journal Chest found people who qualify as binge drinkers (men having five or more drinks during one occasion at least once a month and women having four or more at once at least once a month) or excessive drinkers (more than four drinks a day or 14 a week for men and three a day or seven a week for women) have lower levels of nitric oxide in their breath. That indicates drinking doesn’t just affect your liver, it seems to damage the lungs too. And that, as the researchers noted, “has clinical implications in multiple airway diseases.” Other studies state that lower levels imply uncontrolled or deteriorating airway inflammation.

Scientists are continuing to find out all the ways that excess alcohol harms the body. Now you can add breathing problems to the list that includes a higher risk of many cancers, high blood pressure, stroke, heart and liver disease. 

Medically reviewed in January 2019.

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