Latest studies have shown that consumption of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer since metabolism of acetaldehyde present in alcohol causes damage to DNA. Besides breast cancer, the other major risk is that of liver cancer. Strong links have been found between alcohol metabolism and cancer risk. The study was undertaken by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse, Division of Metabolism and Health Effects. The results of the study are due to be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research issue of December 2011. Breasts and parts of the upper aerodigestive tract, colorectum and liver are primarily affected by the carcinogenic effect of alcohol. The lead author of the study and program director at the aforementioned institute, Philip J. Brooks, said that while alcohol was known to increase the risk of cancers, a definitive and direct link between the two had never been established. The latest study has established that acetaldehyde and ethanol present in alcohol can trigger cancer.
Ethanol, one of the major ingredients present in alcohol, is responsible for causing cancer in several parts of the body. The metabolism of alcohol gives rise to acetaldehyde that causes DNA damage, which can cause the birth of cancer cells by causing abnormality of chromosomes in the cells. Further, experiments have shown beyond doubt that acetaldehyde is carcinogenic. Further breakdown of acetaldehyde in the body gives rise to acetate when it is metabolized by aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), which is a digestive enzyme. Unfortunately, there are a large number of people, especially belonging to East Asian regions, who do not metabolize acetaldehyde into acetone. This is because East Asians contain a different kind of gene, which varies genetically from ALDH2. this inability to metabolize acetaldehyde heightens risk of cancer.
New cells in the body are imitations of their original source of birth. However, when there is a damage to the DNA, new cells cannot be produced at the replicates of the original healthy cells. The proteins are damaged and so is the basic structure of DNA. When such defective replication occurs, the defectiveness is promoted by the cancer network and hence, the damage continues. During the study, the effect of various amounts of alcohol on human anatomy was studied. Results showed conclusive proof about the harmful effect of acetaldehyde in causing cancer in the body. The researchers further said that this study will encourage further research on the exact path of alcohol metabolism and its potential threat of cancer.