Researchers at the University of Alabama in Birmingham say that drinking alcohol while present in tobacco smoke-filled air is bad for cardiovascular health.
Lead author Scott Ballinger exposed mice to smoky air in a laboratory enclosure and fed them a liquid diet containing ethanol — the intoxicating ingredient in alcohol.
The mice exposed to smoke and alcohol had a an almost five-fold increase in artery lesions, compared to mice that breathed filtered air and ate a normal solid diet.
Artery lesions are common among heavy smokers and a key sign of advancing cardiovascular disease, Ballinger said.
The study, published in the journal Free Radical Biology & Medicine, shows that exposure to cigarette smoke when combined with alcohol consumption caused the greatest degree of cardiovascular disease development compared to either action or exposure alone.
Blood-alcohol concentrations in the mice were equivalent to a 150-pound adult consuming two drinks per hour. Cigarette smoke exposure was similar to being in an automobile with a chain smoker with the windows closed.