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Cancer

Alcohol Damages DNA And Increases Cancer Risks

8 months, 1 week ago

7003  0
Posted on Feb 08, 2018, 11 a.m.

It has long been known, but seemingly ignored by many, that alcohol is damaging, new studies from researchers at MRC laboratory of Molecular Biology and Cancer Research UK are explaining how alcohol damages DNA in stem cells increasing the risks of developing cancer as published in Nature.

It has long been known, but seemingly ignored by many, that alcohol is damaging, new studies from researchers at MRC laboratory of Molecular Biology and Cancer Research UK are explaining how alcohol damages DNA in stem cells increasing the risks of developing cancer as published in Nature.

 

Much research has been conducted investigating the precise ways into which alcohol causes cancer that has been done in blood cell cultures. This study was conducted to demonstrate how alcohol exposure can lead to permanent genetic damage.

 

Diluted alcohol was given to mice models by the researchers who then used the processes of DNA sequencing and chromosome analysis methods to examine the extent of genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a chemical that is harmful that the body produces when processing alcohol. The findings of this study show that acetaldehyde can damage and break the DNA within the blood stem cells, this damage will then lead to rearranged chromosomes and can permanently alter the DNA sequencing within the cells, as observed by the research team.

 

Understanding how the blueprint of DNA within the stem cells becomes damaged is important because when a healthy stem cell does become faulty it can then give rise to cancer. These results may help to provide a better understanding on how alcohol increases the risks of developing SEVEN types of cancer, which includes cancers such as bowel and breast cancer. According to Professor Ketan Patel some cancers can develop due to DNA damage in stem cells, some of which occurs by chance, it is suggested in this study that alcohol will indeed increase the risk of this damage.

 

The team also investigated how the body tries to protect itself against the damages that are the related to the effects of alcohol. Enzymes call aldehyde dehydrogenases are the first line of defense which break down the harmful acetaldehyde into acetate which our cells can use as a source of energy. Worldwide millions of people either lack these enzymes or carry faulty versions of them, causing the acetaldehyde to build up, showing as a flushed complexion and making the person feel unwell. The second line of defense the body uses to protect against alcohol damage in cells is a variety of DNA repair systems which normally allow them to fix and reverse different types of DNA damage. But this doesn’t always work and many people carry mutations meaning the cells are not able to carry out and perform these repairs effectively.

 

When the mice models that were lacking in aldehyde dehydrogenases enzymes were given alcohol the results showed 4 times as much DNA damage in their cells as compared to mice with fully functioning ALDH2 enzymes. Patels says this study points out the fact that not being able to process alcohol effectively leads to an even great risk of alcohol related DNA damage and certain cancers. Alcohol clearance and DNA repair system are not perfect, meaning that alcohol can cause cancer in different ways even in those with intact defence mechanisms.

 

It is estimated that alcohol contributes to over 12,000 cases of cancer each year in the UK alone. This study serves as a thought provoking highlight to just how much damage alcohol consumption can do on a cellular level, specifically showing  that it may just may well cost more than a hangover.

Materials provided by Cancer Research UK.

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Juan I. Garaycoechea, Gerry P. Crossan, Frédéric Langevin, Lee Mulderrig, Sandra Louzada, Fentang Yang, Guillaume Guilbaud, Naomi Park, Sophie Roerink, Serena Nik-Zainal, Michael R. Stratton, Ketan J. Patel. Alcohol and endogenous aldehydes damage chromosomes and mutate stem cells. Nature, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/nature25154

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