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Alcohol and the Lung

Among the many organ systems affected by harmful alcohol use, the lungs are particularly susceptible to infections and injury. The mechanisms responsible for rendering people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) vulnerable to lung damage include alterations in host defenses of the upper and lower airways, disruption of alveolar epithelial barrier integrity, and alveolar macrophage immune dysfunction...

Alcohol’s Effects on Lung Health and Immunity

People have been drinking alcoholic beverages for millennia, and alcohol consumption has played an important role throughout human history, being linked to ancient and modern religions, early medicine, and social occasions and celebrations. Although alcohol consumption is socially accepted across many cultures, heavy and prolonged alcohol intake can lead not only to physical dependence but also...

Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Developing Immune System

Most Americans are aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can injure the developing fetus. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), with their developmental, cognitive, and behavioral consequences, probably are the best known dangers (Bakoyiannis et al. 2014; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] 2009). However, drinking during pregnancy also can...

Effects of Alcohol on Tumor Growth, Metastasis, Immune Response, and Host Survival

Alcohol use and abuse have been implicated as etiological factors in the genesis of an increasing number of cancer types in both men and women. In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed both beverage alcohol (i.e., ethanol) and its major metabolite, acetaldehyde, as tumor-inducing substances (i.e., carcinogens) in humans. The most recent worldwide statistic from 2002...

Alcohol Use As a Risk Factor in Infections and Healing: A Clinician's Perspective

Alcohol use and misuse have been part of human society for centuries. Early physicians recognized since the 1800s that alcohol produced not only impairment of the senses but also higher predisposition for tuberculosis. William Osler, the father of scientific medicine, reported in 1905 that patients who misused alcohol had higher predisposition to pneumonia (Osler 2001).

Between 2006 and 2010...

Alcohol’s Burden on Immunity Following Burn, Hemorrhagic Shock, or Traumatic Brain Injury

The incidence of traumatic injury in alcohol-intoxicated individuals continues to escalate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012a), more than 38 million American alcohol users consume 5 or more drinks on the same occasion (i.e., binge drink) and do so about 4 times per month. This behavior is highly conducive to unintentional or accidental traumatic injury, which...

Alcohol and HIV Effects on the Immune System

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and HIV infection both affect the immune system and frequently coexist in the same person, potentially multiplying the risk of infectious disease. Infectious disease, in turn, continues to be a major health concern and leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, despite major advances in our understanding of the immune system, improvements in sanitation...

Alcohol's Effect on Host Defense

Alcohol has been the most common substance of use and abuse in human history. Moderate amounts of alcohol are enjoyed for its anxiolytic effects; however, its addictive properties can lead to chronic, excessive alcohol use and alcohol use disorder. In addition to its commonly recognized behavioral effects, alcohol affects many organs, including the immune system that controls the body’s defense...

Alcohol–Organ Interactions: Injury and Repair - Editor's Note

The association between alcohol misuse and organ damage, specifically liver disease, has been recognized for more than 200 years (Maher 1997). Yet it was not until the early 1970s that researchers demonstrated a direct causal relationship between drinking and this serious—and sometimes fatal—condition.

Development, Prevention, and Treatment of Alcohol-Induced Organ Injury: The Role of Nutrition

Alcohol and nutrition have the potential to interact at multiple levels. For example, heavy alcohol consumption can interfere with normal nutrition, resulting in overall malnutrition or in deficiencies of important micronutrients, such as zinc, by reducing their absorption or increasing their loss. Interactions between alcohol consumption and nutrition also can affect epigenetic regulation of gene...