PURPOSE: Limited data suggest that moderate alcohol drinkers may have better pulmonary function test (PFT) performance than abstainers. Important potential confounders include a drinking-smoking correlation, the inverse relation of drinking with coronary disease, and inclusion of former drinkers who quit because of illness among non-drinkers. More data are needed.
METHODS: We studied the alcohol-PFT relation in 177, 637 members of a Northern California comprehensive health plan who took health examinations between 1964 and 1973. A questionnaire item asked for “usual number of drinks in the past year” with options of “none” (21.4%), <2 drinks per day (60.7%), 3-5 per day (8.0%), and 6+ per day (2.3%); 8.6% supplied incomplete data. Tests included FEV1 and FVC. The health history queries included 47 items indicative of possible cardio-respiratory (CR) illness; classification was “CR yes” for any positive responses (61.0%) and “CR no” for no positive responses (39.0%). Using FEV1/FVC <0.7 (vs >=0.7) as an endpoint we performed logistic regression analyses with nondrinkers as reference for alcohol categories, plus age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, education, body mass index, and CR (yes/no) in most models.
RESULTS: For all persons adjusted Odds Ratios (OR) and [95% Confidence Intervals] vs nondrinkers for FEV1/FVC <0.7 were: <2 drinks/day = 0.82 [0.79-0.85, p <0.001], 3-5 drinks/day = 0.90 [0.86-0.95; p <0.001], 6+ drinks/day = 1.09 [1.00-1.08, p <0.05]. This J-curve for the alcohol-PFT relation was consistent in multiple stratified models. Examples of OR for <2 drinks per day vs nondrinkers in selected strata follow: men = 0.83; women = 0.81, whites = 0.83, African Americans = 0.83, Asian Americans = 0.86, never smokers = 0.82, exsmokers = 0.85, smoke <1 ppd = 0.89, smoke 1+ppd = 0.87, CR yes = 0.84; CR no = 0.79.
CONCLUSION: These data show that independent of smoking and evidence of lung or heart disease, light to moderate drinkers are less likely to have an abnormal FEV1/FVC.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Drinking light to moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages may have benefit for lung function.
DISCLOSURE: Stanton Siu, None.