MONDAY, Oct. 24, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy-drinking smokers have a new reason to kick both habits: A study in rats finds that exposure to cigarette smoke exacerbates alcohol's effect in speeding the dangerous bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae toward the lungs.
S. pneumoniae can cause pneumonia as well as other kinds of infections, and alcoholics and cigarette smokers appear to be particularly susceptible to pulmonary infections caused by this form of bacteria.
The 12-week study, conducted on 64 rats, found that alcohol consumption helped S. pneumoniae travel toward the rodents' lungs and that exposure to cigarette smoke exacerbated this effect.
The study was done at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., by Elizabeth A. Vander Top, Todd A. Wyatt and Martha J. Gentry-Nielsen.
The team published their findings in the May issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
The American Lung Association has more about pneumonia.