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Heavy Drinking Linked to Surgical Infection

Alcohol consumption increases risk of post-operative infection

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- People who are heavy drinkers have an increased risk of developing infection after surgery, says a study in the current issue of the British Journal of Surgery.

The study involved 717 Spanish men in hospital for general surgery. Of those, 178 were classified as moderate or heavy drinkers. Women weren't included in the study because of the small number of females who are moderate/heavy drinkers, the researchers say.

The study found that 14.8 percent of the patients who were non-drinkers developed surgical-site infection or lower respiratory tract infection, compared with 25 percent of the patients who drank 109-144 grams a day of alcohol.

Wine, in particular, seemed to greatly increase the risk of infection. Of the 75 men who developed surgical-site infections while in hospital, 75 percent consumed at least 72 grams a day of wine (six or more glasses).

So, while wine may be beneficial in prevention of cardiovascular and chronic diseases, it seems to add potentially serious risk to even routine surgical procedures.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about infection control.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, Oct. 20, 2003
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