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Heavy alcohol consumption was found to be related to an increased risk of lung cancer, according to several studies presented at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 22–26, 2011. At the same time, black tea consumption was shown to reduce lung cancer risk in nonsmoking women whereas higher body mass index (BMI) and increased fruit consumption were linked to a lower risk of the disease in both men and women. Further findings showed that specific ethnic groups, including African American men and Asian women, had slightly higher risks for lung cancer.

Researchers did not note a connection between moderate drinking and the development of lung cancer. Stanton Siu, MD, of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, and colleagues studied 126,293 individuals who provided baseline data from 1978 to 1985, and followed them until 2008 (abstracts 305A and 937A). They sought to determine the participants' risk for developing lung cancer in relation to smoking, alcohol consumption, gender, ethnicity, BMI, and level of education. Of the 1852 people who developed lung cancer, cigarette smoking was a strong predictor for all types. In addition, heavy alcohol consumption (more than 3 drinks per day) also was found to increase risk. The risk was slightly higher in relation to beer consumption compared with wine and liquor consumption, researchers note.

Dr. Siu and colleagues also found that higher education levels were associated with a lower risk of developing lung cancer, possibly because, in general, more highly educated individuals may lead a healthier lifestyle.

Researchers from the Czech Republic presented a separate study that examined the relationship between smoke exposure, diet and exercise, and lung cancer risk (abstract 952A). They found that consumption of black tea helped protect nonsmoking women and that fruit had a protective effect on both men and women.