Alcohol and tobacco are among the top causes of preventable deaths in the United States. Moreover, these substances often are used together: Studies have found that people who smoke are much more likely to drink, and people who drink are much more likely to smoke. Dependence on alcohol and tobacco also is correlated: People who are dependent on alcohol are three times more likely than those in the general population to be smokers, and people who are dependent on tobacco are four times more likely than the general population to be dependent on alcohol.
Alcohol and tobacco use may lead to major health risks when used alone and together. In addition to contributing to traumatic death and injury (e.g., through car crashes), alcohol is associated with chronic liver disease, cancers, cardiovascular disease, acute alcohol poisoning (i.e., alcohol toxicity), and fetal alcohol syndrome. Smoking is associated with lung disease, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, a growing body of evidence suggests that these substances might be especially dangerous when they are used together; when combined, alcohol and tobacco dramatically increase the risk of certain cancers.
Cancers of the Mouth and Throat
People who drink and smoke are at higher risk for certain types of cancer, particularly those of the mouth and throat. Alcohol and tobacco cause approximately 80 percent of cases of cancer of the mouth and throat in men and about 65 percent in women. For people who both smoke and drink, the danger of mouth and throat cancer increases dramatically—in fact, the combined risk is greater than or equal to the risk associated with alcohol multiplied by the risk associated with tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco co-use appears to substantially increase the risk of at least one type of cancer of the esophagus).
During the past decade, the incidence of liver cancer has increased dramatically in the United States . Some studies have reported that alcohol and tobacco may work synergistically to increase the risk of liver cancers.
The American Heart Association estimates that more than 34 percent of the United States population has some form of cardiovascular disease. Tobacco use and alcohol consumption both are major risk factors for various forms of cardiovascular disease.
Many experts believe that it's important to counsel people who are alcohol-dependent to give up smoking as well as drinking. First, most evidence indicates that giving up both habits will increase the chances of someone remaining sober. Second, it's better for overall health.
We provide Alcohol and smoking Counseling services at Winter Park Family Physicians.
To schedule an appointment, please call our office at 407-647-2550.