Thursday, 4 January 2018

SCIENTISTS: There Is A Link Between Alcohol And Cancer

Think twice about that bubbly, tasty alcohol you consume as scientists have issued a new warning about its health effects by unravelling the linkage between alcohol and cancer. According to a mouse study which may explain the link between cancer and alcohol consumption, scientists said on Wednesday that alcohol damages the DNA of stem cells responsible for producing new blood.

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 we don't understand is, how?
For the new study, published in the science journal Nature, researchers gave lab mice diluted alcohol, known chemically as ethanol.
And they used chromosome and DNA analysis to examine the genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde,
a chemical produced when the body processes alcohol.
“They found that acetaldehyde as chemical, 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 a 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. 

From my own understanding, our body does not digest alcohol and when the body stores up alcohol for long, it becomes poisonous. This means, it is possible that alcohol can cause cancer.

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