Research Unravel Link Between Alcohol Consumption And Cancer – Find Out

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Think twice about that frothy, bubbly alcohol you
consume as scientists have issued a new warning about its health effects by
unravelling the linkage between it and cancer.
Alcohol damages the DNA of stem cells responsible for
producing new blood, according to a mouse study which may explain the link
between drinking and cancer, scientists said on Wednesday.
Health watchdogs have long warned that alcohol
consumption contributes to seven types of cancer — of the mouth, throat, larynx
or voice box, oesophagus or food pipe, breast, liver and bowel.
What was not well understood was: how?
For the new study, published in the science journal
Nature, researchers gave lab mice diluted alcohol, known chemically as ethanol.
They then used chromosome and DNA analysis to examine
genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, a chemical produced when the body
processes alcohol.
“They found that acetaldehyde can break and damage DNA
within blood stem cells, leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently
altering the DNA sequences within these cells,” Cancer Research UK, which
helped fund the research, said in a statement.
“It is important to understand how the DNA blueprint
within stem cells is damaged because when healthy stem cells become faulty,
they can give rise to cancer.”
DNA damage can lead to cell death, but can also
trigger the body’s natural repair mechanisms. However, if the DNA is repaired
incorrectly, it can lead to cancer.
“While some damage occurs by chance, our findings
suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage,” said lead
author Ketan Patel of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.
The team also examined how the body fights against
alcohol damage using a family of enzymes called ALDH, which turn acetaldehyde
into acetate, which cells can use as energy.
Millions of people — particularly from Southeast Asia
— either lack these enzymes or carry faulty versions, said the team. And mice
lacking ALDH, given alcohol, suffered four times as much DNA damage.
“Our study highlights that not being able to process
alcohol effectively can lead to an even higher risk of alcohol-related DNA
damage and therefore certain cancers,” said Patel.
It may be a contributor to an “extremely high
prevalence” of throat cancer in countries such as China, commented Malcolm
Alison of the Queen Mary University of London, who was not involved in the
study.
Commentators welcomed the paper’s contribution to the
knowledge base.

“This is beautiful work, which puts our finger on the
molecular basis for the link between alcohol and increased cancer risk and stem
cells. Very important,” said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz of the University of
Cambridge.
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