Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause irreversible damage to our DNA and promote the development of tumors and cancers, a new study warns.
If the long-term harmful effects of alcohol on our health have been known for a long time (liver cancer, cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease), a new study proves that excessive alcohol consumption can cause irreversible damage to our genetic cells. Conducted by researchers from the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the University of Cambridge (UK), the work was published in the prestigious journal Nature.
More specifically, it is the consumption of acetaldehyde, a molecule contained in alcohol (also known as ethanal), which causes genetic mutations of stem cells, which has the effect of significantly damaging our DNA. "Very strong evidence that one of the metabolites in alcohol is damaging DNA, (among other things) at the stem cell level to generate tissue afterwards," says Ketan Patel, lead author of the study. According to the scientist, this degradation of the DNA would favor the appearance of malignant tumors and cancers.
"Alcohol elimination and DNA repair systems are not perfect"
These results prove the harmful effect of acetaldehyde, already demonstrated by previous research. But the study by Ketan Patel highlights a new data related to aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). This scientific term refers to a protective enzyme that allows our body to resist alcohol. It is this same enzyme that is missing about 8% of the inhabitants of Southeast Asia. According to the researchers, the absence of ALDH2 increases the damage of alcohol caused to DNA and could explain the high prevalence of esophageal cancer in this part of the world.
"It's important to remember that alcohol elimination and DNA repair systems are not perfect. Alcohol can cause cancer in many ways, even in people whose defense mechanisms are intact, "Ketan Patel moderates. Future research by these British scientists will focus on why and how alcohol promotes certain types of cancer, including liver, bowel, throat, esophagus and breast.