Men Who Drink Face Higher Risk of Sleep Disorders

Habitual alcohol users 25% more likely to have mild or severe breathing difficulties

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FRIDAY, April 20, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- The more alcohol men habitually consume, the more likely they are to have a sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD), a new study says.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the study included 775 men and 645 women who were evaluated for alcohol consumption and SRBD. Relative to men who consumed less alcohol, men who habitually consumed more alcohol were 25 percent more likely to have a mild or worse SRBD.

Among women, there was no significant association between minimal to moderate alcohol consumption and increased risk of SRBD. A number of factors may explain this, including the limited range of alcohol consumption reported by women in the study or because women may be more resistant than men to breathing problems during sleep, said study author Paul E. Peppard.

The study was published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Sleep Medicine.

"Experimental evidence is fairly consistent in demonstrating acute effects of alcohol exposure on initiating or exacerbating an SRBD, perhaps by reducing upper airway patency via reduced dilatory muscle tone, or by blunted ventilatory response to hypoxia," Peppard said. "Based on the previous experimental evidence, men and women with an SRBD, or those particularly susceptible to SRBD, should be advised to avoid alcohol near bedtime."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains sleep apnea.

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, April 15, 2007

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