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Study reveals how alcohol damages DNA, raises cancer risk

Sachin Sharma | Updated on: 4 January 2018, 19:47 IST

One of the most researched and studied topics of the world is the impact of alcohol consumption on a human body that results in developing different types of cancer cells. However, there weren't many studies that explained the process leading to the growth of these cells. A recent study conducted by a team at Cambridge University and published in the journal Nature has demonstrated exactly how alcohol permanently affects the DNA in stem cells, and also results in an increased risk of cancer.

The Study

The scientific hypothesis for many years have been blaming the creation of acetaldehyde in the human liver (due to consumption of alcohol) for enhancing the carcinogenic risk factors. The new study done on mice is based on the observations of a team of scientists who administered alcohol to mice.

The Findings

This was followed by observing the effects of DNA sequencing and chromosome analysis. The scientists were able to clearly find that the creation of acetaldehyde in the human liver permanently damages DNA in the blood stem cells. This clearly explains how all this results in an enhanced risk of developing cancer in the human body.

According to the lead author of the study, Ketan Patel, "Some cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells. While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage."

Further Investigation

The ALDH enzyme group is responsible for breaking down of the acetaldehyde in our body after we consume alcohol. Based on the study, the further investigation states that a significant number of people in the world carry defective ALDH enzymes in their bodies. This results in ineffective clearance of the acetaldehyde in their body after drinking alcohol.

First published: 4 January 2018, 19:47 IST