How alcohol damages stem cell DNA and increases cancer risk.
LONDON (Reuters) - Drinking alcohol produces a harmful chemical in
the body which can lead to permanent genetic damage in the DNA of
stem cells, increasing the risk of cancer developing, according to research
published on Wednesday.
Working with mice in a laboratory, British scientists used chromosome
analysis and DNA sequencing to examine the genetic damage caused by
acetaldehyde, a harmful chemical produced when the body processes
Their findings offered more detail about how alcohol increases the risk
of developing 7 types of cancer, including common forms such as breast
and bowel cancer. It also showed how the body seeks to defend against
the damage alcohol can do.“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,” said Ketan Patel, a
professor at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, who co-led the study.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies alcohol as
a Group 1 carcinogen, citing “convincing evidence” it causes cancer in humans.
In Wednesday’s study, published in the journal Nature, Patel’s team gave diluted alcohol to mice and
then analyzed the effect on the animals’ DNA. They found that acetaldehyde can break and damage
DNA within blood stem cells, permanently altering the DNA sequences within these cells.
This is important, Patel said, because when healthy stem cells become faulty, they can give rise to
Source: www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cancer-alcohol/how alcohol-damages-stem-celldna-and-increases-cancer-risk-idUSKB1ES1N2