Drinking alcohol causes cancer by 'damaging DNA'

Drinking alcohol causes cancer by 'damaging DNA'

Drinking alcohol causes cancer by 'damaging DNA'

Drinking alcohol doesn't just damage the liver and kidneys - turns out it could increase cancer risks and damage DNA as well.

When this happens it causes massive damage to our DNA, the study found.

Doctors have previously linked alcohol consumption to an increase risk of developing seven types of cancer, but until now, exactly how alcohol causes DNA damage hasn't been really clear. To find ways of keeping cells on the straight and narrow, scientists based at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, used mice to show how alcohol exposure leads to permanent genetic damage.

The researchers say their research could explain how alcohol causes DNA damage that leads to cancer in humans. In addition, the new insight into the function of p53 in blood stem cells may explain why certain blood cancers become resistant to chemotherapy.

'While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage'. Most life on Earth, from bacteria to mammals, also possess this protective mechanism, but, unlike humans, they have not yet developed the capacity to manufacture alcohol on an industrial scale for consumption. These are mouth, upper throat (pharynx), voice box (laryngeal), esophageal, breast, liver, and bowel cancer. As a result, while they drink, acetaldehyde builds up, causing a flushed complexion along with as a feeling of discomfort. Even minimal drinking might cause some level of DNA damage. Because alcohol seems to damage stem cells (at least in the blood) these changes can then be transmitted to many cells that are then subsequently created from a single stem cell.

The study also showed, however, how the body protects itself from acetaldehyde by using a group of enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenases 2 (ALDH2), which break acetaldehyde down into acetate which cells can use beneficially.

Warning others about the dangers of downing drinks has no effect on the likelihood they will do it, the research adds.

No victor in the Powerball, estimated jackpot now $550M
That means almost $1 billion is up for grabs between the Powerball and Mega Millions drawings this week. Powerball is played in 44 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S.

They found that one of the substances produced as our bodies break down alcohol, known as acetaldehyde, physically breaks and damages the DNA held within blood stem cells. "This paper provides very strong evidence that an alcohol metabolite causes DNA damage [including] to the all-important stem cells that go on to make tissues".

Another part of the experiment was to establish the methods through which the body repairs the damage done by acetaldehyde.

'It's important to remember that alcohol clearance and DNA fix systems are not ideal and alcohol can still cause cancer in different ways, even in people whose defence mechanisms are intact'.

According to Professor Linda Bauld, a Cancer Research UK's expert on cancer prevention, this study underlines the damage caused by alcohol on the body cells, costing some people more than just a hangover.

Alcohol consumption causes around four percent of cancers in the United Kingdom, or around 12,800 cases each year.

Millions of people worldwide, particularly those from South East Asia, either lack all of these enzymes, or carry faulty versions of them.

Related news