Study Reports Link between Alcohol and DNA Damage Resulting to High Cancer Risk

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Researchers at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge reported the role of alcohol in causing damage to DNA in stem cells and increasing cancer risks.

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK. The results of the study were published in Nature journal.
Mice models were utilized to demonstrate the genetic damage caused as a result of alcohol exposure. As a part of the study, ethanol was introduced in the mice models. DNA sequencing and chromosome analysis was conducted to study the genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, which is a harmful chemical produced when the body processes alcohol.

Results of the study reported that acetaldehyde could break and damage DNA present in the blood stem cells, resulting in rearranged chromosomes with permanent alteration of DNA sequences within cells. According to Professor Ketan Patel, lead author and scientist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, several cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells, whereas some damage occurs by chance. Findings of the study suggest that alcohol exposures could increase the risk of DNA damage.

The study examined the immune function of body associated with alcohol exposures. Enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH) break down harmful acetaldehyde into acetate, which is utilized by our cells as a source of energy. The mice models lacking the critical ALDH enzyme suffered a fourfold increase in DNA damage in their cells as compared to mice models with fully functioning ALDH2 enzyme. The second line of defense is offered by a variety of DNA repair systems that allow the cells to fix and reverse various types of DNA damage. However, some people undergo mutations that inhibit their cells from carrying out these repairs effectively.

According to Cancer Profiling Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, cancer profiling helps in identification of genomic alteration, which aid to select an appropriate therapy for the treatment of cancer. This technique reduces the trial and error process in diagnosis of cancer at various stages and provide more precise and accurate information about clinical outcomes of cancer. Study underlines the damage caused by alcohol on the body cells, costing some people more than just a hangover.

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