Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of asthma but heavy drinking increases chances of suffering from it, according to research.

Scientists compared alcohol intake with asthma risk over eight years in more than 19,000 twins aged 12-41. Fewer than 4 per cent of those who drank one to six units of alcohol per week developed asthma but more than 6 per cent of those who rarely or never drank alcohol suffered symptoms.

Around 4.5 per cent of people who consumed four or more units of alcohol per day became asthmatic. Lovers of beer were more likely to develop the condition than those who did not indicate a preferred drink.

The findings were presented yesterday at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Amsterdam. Researcher Sofie Lieberoth, of Bispebjerg Hospital, Denmark, said: "Whilst excessive alcohol intake can cause health problems ... our study suggests that a moderate intake ... can reduce the risk of developing asthma."

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