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Mouse study shows how alcohol may cause cancer

AFP  |  Paris 

Alcohol damages the of responsible for producing new blood, according to a mouse study which may explain the link between drinking and cancer, scientists said today.

Health watchdogs have long warned that alcohol consumption contributes to seven types of - of the mouth, throat, larynx or voice box, oesophagus or food pipe, breast, liver and bowel.

What was not well understood was: how?

For the new study, published in the science journal Nature, researchers gave lab mice diluted alcohol, known chemically as ethanol.

They then used chromosome and analysis to examine genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, a produced when the body processes alcohol.

"They found that acetaldehyde can break and damage within blood stem cells, leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently altering the DNA sequences within these cells," Research UK, which helped fund the research, said in a statement.

"It is important to understand how the DNA blueprint within is damaged because when healthy become faulty, they can give rise to "

DNA damage can lead to cell death, but can also trigger the body's natural repair mechanisms. However, if the DNA is repaired incorrectly, it can lead to cancer.

"While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage," of the of Molecular in

The team also examined how the body fights against alcohol damage using a family of enzymes called ALDH, which turn acetaldehyde into acetate, which cells can use as

Millions of people -- particularly from -- either lack these enzymes or carry faulty versions, said the team. And mice lacking ALDH, given alcohol, suffered four times as much DNA damage.

"Our study highlights that not being able to process alcohol effectively can lead to an even higher risk of alcohol-related DNA damage and therefore certain cancers," said Patel.

It may be a contributor to an "extremely high prevalence" of in countries such as China, commented Malcolm Alison of the Queen Mary University of London, who was not involved in the study.

Commentators welcomed the paper's contribution to the knowledge base.

"This is beautiful work, which puts our finger on the molecular basis for the link between alcohol and increased cancer risk and stem cells. Very important," said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz of the

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 04 2018. 01:40 IST