A new study in mice seems to have offered the explanation behind the correlation of alcohol consumption and the increased risk of cancer. Alcohol consumption has been associated with an increased risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, breast, liver and intestine,
The study was carried out by a team of scientists from the Molecular Biology Laboratory of the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom.
Alcohol and cancer
Experiments with mice and ethanol showed that alcohol damaged DNA in blood-forming stem cells because of this byproduct of the alcohol metabolization process, acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde can damage and cause double chain breaks in the DNA inside these cells, permanently altering them. As he explains Ketan Patel, work leader:
This document provides very solid evidence that an alcohol metabolite causes DNA damage to important stem cells that become tissues. We saw a lot of damage in the DNA of these cells. Pieces of DNA were removed, pieces were broken and we even saw parts of the chromosomes moving and reorganizing.