Navigation Links
First evidence from humans on how alcohol may boost risk of cancer

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 22, 2012 Almost 30 years after discovery of a link between alcohol consumption and certain forms of cancer, scientists are reporting the first evidence from research on people explaining how the popular beverage may be carcinogenic. The results, which have special implications for hundreds of millions of people of Asian descent, were reported here today at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Silvia Balbo, Ph.D., who led the study, explained that the human body breaks down, or metabolizes, the alcohol in beer, wine and hard liquor. One of the substances formed in that breakdown is acetaldehyde, a substance with a chemical backbone that resembles formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. Scientists also have known from laboratory experiments that acetaldehyde can cause DNA damage, trigger chromosomal abnormalities in cell cultures and act as an animal carcinogen.

"We now have the first evidence from living human volunteers that acetaldehyde formed after alcohol consumption damages DNA dramatically," Balbo said. She is a research associate in the laboratory of Stephen Hecht, Ph.D., a noted authority on cancer prevention at the University of Minnesota. "Acetaldehyde attaches to DNA in humans ― to the genetic material that makes up genes - in a way that results in the formation of a 'DNA adduct.' It's acetaldehyde that latches onto DNA and interferes with DNA activity in a way linked to an increased risk of cancer."

Balbo pointed out that people have a highly effective natural repair mechanism for correcting the damage from DNA adducts. Most people thus are unlikely to develop cancer from social drinking, although alcohol is associated with a risk of other health problems and accidents. In addition, most people have an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which quickly converts acetaldehyde to acetate, a relatively harmless substance.

However, about 30 percent of people of Asian descent ― almost 1.6 billion people ― have a variant of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene and are unable to metabolize alcohol to acetate. That genetic variant results in an elevated risk of esophageal cancer from alcohol drinking. Native Americans and native Alaskans have a deficiency in the production of that same enzyme.

To test the hypothesis that acetaldehyde causes DNA adducts to form in humans, Balbo and colleagues gave 10 volunteers increasing doses of vodka (comparable to one, two and three drinks) once a week for three weeks. They found that levels of a key DNA adduct increased up to 100-fold in the subjects' oral cells within hours after each dose, then declined about 24 hours later. Adduct levels in blood cells also rose.

"These findings tell us that alcohol, a lifestyle carcinogen, is metabolized into acetaldehyde in the mouth, and acetaldehyde is forming DNA adducts, which are known major players in carcinogenesis," said Balbo.


Contact: Michael Bernstein
215-418-2056 (Philadelphia Press Center, Aug. 17-23)

Michael Woods
215-418-2056 (Philadelphia Press Center, Aug. 17-23)
American Chemical Society


Related medicine news :

1. First identification of a strong oral carcinogen in smokeless tobacco
2. IHME professor named first health measurement winner of prestigious innovation award
3. FDA Gives Nod to First Drug for Diabetic Eye Disease
4. Mayo Clinic completes first genome-wide analysis of peripheral T-cell lymphomas
5. Women and Children First? Not So, Says Study
6. WPI to host international workshop focused on technology solutions for first responders
7. First Huntingtons disease center established in Washington, D.C., area
8. Study Gives First Evidence That Adult Human Lungs Can Regrow
9. Hookah smoking increasingly common among first-year college women
10. Sohn Conference and Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundations name first pediatric research fellows
11. Scientists first to see trafficking of immune cells in beating heart
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... patient payment industry today announced its strategic partnership with Connance, a healthcare ... , The two companies’ proven, proprietary technology combine to provide health systems, ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 26, 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice Levels, a Media Slicing ... their videos a whole new perspective by using the title layers in ProSlice ... , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different presets to choose from. FCPX ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now ... and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings ... The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Dr. Calvin Johnson has dedicated his ... implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating his patients. The procedure is ... to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic surgeons use to help ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... June 19, 2016 is World Sickle Cell Observance Day. In an effort to ... treatments, Serenity Recovery Center of Marne, Michigan, has issued a pain management ... (SCD) is a disorder of the red blood cells, which can cause episodes of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... , June 27, 2016  VMS Rehab Systems, ... Board will take whatever measures required to build a ... stock which is currently listed on the OTC Markets-pink ... Company Chairman and CEO, "We are seeing an anomaly ... to understand, not only by the Company, but shareholders ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016  Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (GBT) (NASDAQ: ... novel therapeutics for the treatment of grievous blood-based ... closing of its previously announced underwritten public offering ... public offering price of $18.75 per share. All ... by GBT. GBT estimates net proceeds from the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 The Academy ... of recommendations that would allow biopharmaceutical companies ... with entities that make formulary and coverage decisions, a ... "value" of new medicines. The recommendations address ... not appear on the drug label, a prohibition that ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: