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Smoke, alcohol combo socks liver

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say combining second-hand smoke along with alcohol raises the risk of liver disease.

The animal study, published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine, finds the combination of secondhand smoke and alcohol results in many more fibrosis proteins in the liver that either smoke alone or alcohol alone. Fibrosis proteins may cause fibrosis -- scar tissue in the liver -- that may lead to the development of the disease of the liver known as cirrhosis.

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"This new data is a significant finding considering the combined effect of alcohol and cigarette smoke exposures, and the implications for public health," study co-author Shannon Bailey of the University of Alabama at Birmingham says in a statement.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of California, Davis, researchers exposed some mice to smoky air in a laboratory enclosure and had controls breath filtered air. The mice exposed to alcohol were given a liquid diet containing ethanol -- the intoxicating ingredient in alcohol drinks, the study says.

The mice exposed to secondhand smoke and given alcohol had an 110 percent increase in liver fibrosis. The "twice-exposed" mice had 65 percent more liver fibrosis proteins than mice who breathed smoky air but did not consume ethanol, the researchers said.

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