A Possible Explanation for Alcohol Increasing Cancer Risk

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Manager, Oncology Social Work

JANUARY 08, 2018

This is an extra posting today as I will be leaving the country on Thursday and am trying to fulfill the week's quote of five before getting on the plane. More about that tomorrow.

This is one depressing study. As reported in EurekAlert Science, scientists in the UK have found that alcohol can damage our DNA, possibly rearrange chromosomes, and generally crate havoc in our cells. Even non-scientists like me can understand that this can't be good.

Damaged stem cells do not automatically lead to cancer, but this is a plausible reason why alcohol use can increase the risk of several common cancers, including breast and bowel.

Here is the start and a link to read more:

New research shows how alcohol damages DNA and increases cancer risk

Scientists have shown how alcohol damages DNA in stem cells, helping to explain why drinking increases your risk of cancer, according to research part-funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Nature. Much previous research looking at the precise ways in which alcohol causes cancer has been done in cell cultures. But in this study, researchers have used mice to show how alcohol exposure leads to permanent genetic damage.
Scientists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, gave diluted alcohol, chemically known as ethanol, to mice. They then used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to examine the genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, a harmful chemical produced when the body processes alcohol.
They found that acetaldehyde can break and damage DNA within blood stem cells leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently altering the DNA sequences within these cells.
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.*
These new findings therefore help us to understand how drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing 7 types of cancer including common types like breast and bowel.**

Read more: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-01/cru-nrs010218.php

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