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Alcohol Risks

Drinking Alcohol Even Days Before Surgery, Can Be Deadly

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posted 02:54 PM EST, Mon February 04, 2008
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Doctors now caution anyone due for scheduled surgery to limit, or eliminate, alcohol consumption prior to a procedure.

While chronic and heavy drinking has long been known to cause extreme bodily damage, doctors now warn of the risks of even a single bout of binge drinking – before going into surgery that is.

Recent German research shows that mice fed alcohol at binge drinking levels for only a short time suffered considerably more damage than non alcohol exposed mice, after being purposefully infected with pneumonia. The drinking mice suffered worse lung damage from the infection, and produced greater levels of cytokines, which are a sign of a poorly functioning immune system.

Even short periods of binge drinking, perhaps even a single session, seem to reduce immune system efficiency for a time.

Claudia Spies, a German doctor working out of the Charite University Hospital, cautions that even people who drink only 2 or 3 drinks day suffer more complications and infection after surgery, and she cites the high incidence of alcohol involved injury in emergency rooms for equally high immune-system complications seen in emergency medicine. Elizabeth Kovaks, a doctor out of Loyola University, agrees, and explains that alcoholics are in fact more at risk of death through opportunistic infections than cirrhosis of the liver.

Doctors now caution anyone scheduled for surgery to minimize drinking in the weeks prior to a procedure, with no drinking the safest course of action. Alcohol simply increases the risks of complications and slows down the recovery process.

Doctors also plead for honesty from patients over alcohol consumption habits, explaining that should doctors know of alcohol-related risks, they may be able to take extra, and possibly life-saving, precautions.

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