Alcohol Heightens Risks of Tobacco Use
Smoking and heavy drinking are two risky behaviors that often go together.
But when combined, it now seems, they play an increased role in causing a genetic mutation linked to lung cancer.
Tobacco is known to produce changes in the tumor-suppressor gene p53, and to be the major cause of lung cancer. The tobacco-cancer link is so great that Dr. Steven A. Ahrendt of the Medical College of Wisconsin, whose research team sought lung-cancer patients for a new study, said, "We had to get 140 just to get 10 nonsmokers."
Heavy alcohol use, on the other hand, while implicated in some cancers, has not been tied to p53 mutations.
But the study, published in last week's issue of Cancer Research, found that regular drinkers who smoked were nearly twice as likely to have p53 changes as nondrinkers who smoked, and five times as likely as those who did not smoke or drink.