Adults who drink alcohol excessively have less nitric oxide, which can protect against certain harmful bacteria, in their exhaled breath than adults who don’t drink.

The study, which is the first to reveal an association between nitric oxide and an excessive intake of alcohol, was carried out by a team from Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago, USA using data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES).

NHANES is a program of studies which uses interviews and physical examinations to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States, and gave the researchers access to data from 12,059 adults who had participated between 2007 and 2012.

Questionnaires were used to define put the participants into the following alcohol groups: never drinkers, nonexcessive drinkers, excessive drinkers, and former excessive drinkers.

Excessive drinkers were defined in the study as those who consumed more than one drink per day on average for women and more than two drinks per day for men, and people who binge drink at least once per month, with binge drinking defined as four or more drinks per drinking session for women and five or more drinks for men.

From their sample of data 26.9 percent were found to be excessive drinkers.

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