The fact that alcohol increases the risk of human cancer, is well known to scientists for several decades. But how exactly alcoholic drinks lead to this – science did not give a clear answer. A new study conducted by the University of Cambridge staff shed light on this process for the first time and proved that alcohol damages DNA, which in turn leads to cancer.
Scientists have long suggested that acetaldehyde arising from the digestion of alcohol by the liver is responsible for increasing the chances of cancer in the body. Everyone knows that this substance is toxic, so there was nothing surprising in this assumption. In the new study, scientists injected ethyl alcohol into the body of laboratory mice, and then observed changes in their bodies through sequencing and DNA analysis. The experiment clearly demonstrated that acetaldehyde damages DNA in the stem cells of the blood, which several times increases the risk of several types of cancer.
“Some types of cancer develop due to DNA damage in stem cells. And although some injuries occur accidentally from a number of other factors, our study proves that regular drinking significantly increases this risk, “says Ketan Patel, lead author of the study.
Scientists also examined how the body copes with the sudden influx of acetaldehyde. The substance is destroyed in the body by a series of enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH). Some people have defective enzymes ALDH, so their body is not able to effectively cleanse of acetaldehyde after drinking alcohol. Accumulation of this substance in their bodies can lead to even more severe DNA damage. When alcohol was given to mice with defective enzymes, their DNA was destroyed four times more actively than in rodents with functional ALDH
This study for the first time clearly describes the mechanism that binds alcohol and cancer. At the moment, science closely links the seven types of cancer, which leads to the use of alcohol. This is cancer of the mouth, cancer of the throat, larynx, esophagus, breast, liver and intestine. Further research by a group of scientists from Cambridge should find out why these, and not other types of oncology, are most often pursued by alcohol lovers. The results of the study can be found in the journal Nature .