Alcoholism Raises Pneumonia Risk

History of problem drinking can mean more severe illness, study finds

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THURSDAY, May 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Alcoholism boosts a person's risk for dangerous pneumonia, European researchers report.

The Spanish-German study included 128 current alcoholics, 54 former alcoholics, and 1,165 non-alcoholics who were hospitalized for community-acquired pneumonia. The researchers concluded that patients with a history of alcohol abuse had the highest incidence of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

Overall, 27 percent of alcoholics, 30 percent of former alcoholics, and 16 percent of non-alcoholics developed S. pneumoniae, the researchers reported in the May issue of the journal Chest.

Alcoholics also presented with more severe forms of pneumonia, but there were no major differences between the three groups of patients in terms of death or antibiotic resistance to S. pneumoniae.

The researchers said their findings highlight the need to promote pneumococcal vaccination in people with a history of alcoholism.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about lung cancer.

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, May 8, 2006

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