Alcohol damages DNA and increases the risk of cancer.
Drinking alcohol raises the risk of cancer by damaging DNA, scientists have discovered for the first time, leading health experts to call for people to cut down on their consumption.
Alcohol is contributes to more than 12,000 cases of cancer each year in Britain, but nobody had shown why it was so harmful.
Now a new study by the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University, has found that when the body processes alcohol it produces a chemical called acetaldehyde which is harmful to DNA.
The damage happens in blood stem cells, which create the red and white blood cells that carry oxygen through the body and help fight infections.
The researchers found that acetaldehyde snaps the DNA of stem cells, permanently altering the genetic code and triggering cancer.
Experts and charities described the findings, which were reported in the journal Nature, as ‘very important’ and urged people to drink less.
Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s expert on cancer prevention, said: “This thought-provoking research highlights the damage alcohol can do to our cells, costing some people more than just a hangover.
“It’s a good idea to think about cutting down on the amount you drink.”
Alcohol is linked to seven types of cancer: liver, breast, bowel, upper throat, mouth, oesophagal and larynx.
To find out how alcohol damages the body, scientists gave diluted alcohol to mice then sequenced their DNA and analysed their chromosomes.
They discovered that drinking causes genetic breaks which rearrange chromosomes, and alter the DNA blueprint which keeps the body healthy.
Read full article: Drinking alcohol raises risk of cancer by snapping DNA, scientists find
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