Now Alcohol's Linked to Lung Cancer Too

By Jennifer Matesa 10/26/11

Heavy drinking can help lead to the deadly disease, while clinical obesity apparently protects you.

A carcinogenic combo Photo via

New research indicates that heavy drinking, and not just smoking, is associated with lung cancer. According to studies presented October 25 and 26 at the American College of Chest Physicians' annual meeting, the heavy consumption—meaning more than three drinks per day—of beer, wine or spirits was associated with a higher risk of lung cancer than drinking moderately or abstaining. "Heavy drinking has multiple harmful effects, including cardiovascular complications and increased risk for lung cancer," said Stanton Siu, MD, FCCP, who's based at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California and was the lead physician in one of the studies. "We did not see a relationship between moderate drinking and lung cancer development,” he added. “So it appears probable that most middle-aged and older moderate drinkers have coronary artery protection.” Elevated risk of lung cancer was also seen in men who smoked and ate fatty foods. For women who smoked, physical exercise, wine, vitamins and drinking black tea offered protection against lung cancer. And strangely enough, a body-mass index of greater than 30—classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as clinically obese—was found to be associated with lower rates of lung cancer.

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Jennifer Matesa is a Voice Award Fellow at the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is the author of the blog Guinevere Gets Sober. She is the author of several books, including the non-fiction, The Recovering Body, about physical and spiritual fitness for living clean and sober. You can find Jennifer on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.