Heavy drinkers are three times more likely to have tuberculosis than those who don’t drink heavily. They are also far less likely to complete their TB treatment. This is according to Professor Charles Parry of the Medical Research Council, who believes that TB patients should be screened for alcohol abuse and educated about its dangers.
“Heavy alcohol use is a risk factor for an impaired immune system and increases a person’s susceptibility to active TB infection and reactivation of latent disease,” Parry told the third South African TB conference.
Effects of alcohol on TB
Not only does alcohol weaken a person’s ability to fight TB, but it also “influences social mixing patterns”, bringing the drinker into “bars and shebeens, shelters for homeless persons, prisons and other social institutions” where the risk of TB exposure is high, said Parry.
South Africans are also renowned for our alcohol consumption, and around half a million citizens are estimated to get TB every year.
South Africa has the third-worst burden of TB cases in the world after India and China.
Click here to view the conference presentations.
(Health-e News, June 2012)
TB in South Africa