Here’s why doing ‘Dryuary’ is a good thing: alcohol can irreversibly damage your DNA and up cancer risk. A group of British researchers found a link between higher cancer risk and permanent DNA changes done by alcohol consumption.
The study, which was partly sponsored by the Cancer Research U.K. ,was published in the journal Nature this week.
Past studies have also zoomed in on the way cancer affects blood stem cells’ DNA, but the latest research is the first to test the theory on animals and come up with proof of permanent genetic damage.
Researchers at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the U.K. have given lab mice alcohol in a new experiment. Next, they kept an eye on the rodents’ DNA to see if their new diet affected their genes.
- When the body tries to break down alcohol it produces a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde.
- Acetaldehyde reaches blood stem cells where it damages the DNA by altering DNA sequences and tampering with chromosomes.
- The process can lead to genetic mutations which can cause cancer.
Researchers explained that cancer-causing mutations usually occur by chance, but alcohol seems to speed up the process.
Alcohol Can Boost DNA Damage Risk
The new study linked alcohol consumption to at least seven types of cancer including bowel and breast cancers. Professor Ketan Patel who led the study noted that some cancers pop up when the stem cells’ DNA had been damaged.
While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage,
Prof. Patel said.
The new research also examined the body’s defense mechanisms against alcohol. The body releases a special type of enzymes to offset acetaldehyde’s poisonous effect on the body. The chemical is broken down into acetate which the body can later turn into energy. But when there is too much alcohol involved the process can backfire.
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