(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to a new study published in Nature, drinking alcohol in excess can irreversibly damage your DNA and cause cancer.
Researchers at the U.K.-based Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology found that alcohol abuse can cause permanent damage to the DNA in the stem cells in charge of blood production.
In the study, scientists analyzed animals’ DNA before and after drinking. They learned that a byproduct of alcohol metabolism dubbed acetaldehyde turns into poison which can dramatically affect the drinker’s DNA.
Researchers also found that the changes brought by acetaldehyde are permanent, and the mutations caused can result in cancer.
Lead author Ketan Patel explained that some cancers occur when the stem cells’ DNA is severely damaged. And alcohol seems to play a major part in this issue since such mutations usually occur by chance.
In Some People, Drinking too Much Alcohol Can Lead Faster to Cancer
The research team also found that some people are more prone to alcohol-related DNA damage than other people. The body usually reacts to too much acetaldehyde by trying to break it down into energy.
But some people lack the enzymes responsible for this process and are more likely to get sick. The rodents that were engineered to lack the enzymes were four times more likely to have their DNA damaged by alcohol than regular mice.
Researchers also noted that there is a second line of defense in our bodies against alcohol, which undoes most damages to the DNA. But that defense can become useless if there is too much alcohol involved. In mice, without those defenses, stem cells were unable to produce new blood for nearly two weeks.
Researchers concluded that people who are deficient in defenses against alcohol are more likely to experience DNA damage and their risk of cancer skyrockets. However, even people with intact defense mechanisms can get cancer since DNA repair mechanisms are not perfect.
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