The dangers of drinking alcohol are well-known to most of us, but you might not be aware that alcoholic beverages actually increase your risk of developing cancer. It turns out it can permanently damage the DNA of stem cells, making the body more vulnerable to the disease and more likely for it to developing tumors.
Alcohol scrambles the DNA in stem cells
Many cancer cases appear as the DNA of stem cells suffers irreversible damage. Most of them happen by pure chance, but it turns out that drinking alcohol might make stem cells feebler. To prove this hypothesis, a team of researchers decided to perform a study on genetically altered mice. They administered ethanol to these mice, and then observed how it disturbed the DNA of stem cells.
If the body receives alcohol, it has to process it and, whenever this happens, it results a byproduct. This byproduct is acetaldehyde, which is toxic. Once this acetaldehyde gets into contact with stem cells, it has a permanent effect on its DNA. More precisely, it gets destroyed, causing a huge imbalance in its sequences.
DNA damage in stem cells often leads to cancer
This is important to know, and it highlights the links between alcohol consumption and cancer. However, acetaldehyde doesn’t always have such a destructive effect on the body thanks to two saving mechanisms. One of them fights against this toxic compound, while the second one fixes the damage done on the DNA.
It’s worth mentioning that alcohol had a terrible effect on the mice since they had undergone genetic engineering. The damage was bigger on those that lacked the defense mechanism against acetaldehyde. This is an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase 2, or ALDH2. The damage done on these mice by alcohol was four times bigger than on those with the protective enzyme.