Alcohol Metabolism Causes DNA Damage and Triggers a Breast Cancer-Related DNA Damage Response
Alcohol is known to be carcinogenic to humans in the upper aerodigestive tract, liver, colorectum, and the female breast. Evidence suggests that acetaldehyde, the primary metabolite of alcohol, plays a major role in alcohol-related esophageal cancer. A new study using human cells has established linkages between alcohol metabolism and acetaldehyde-DNA damage that may have implications for breast and liver cancers.
The results were published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
"Although the link between drinking alcohol and certain types of cancers was first established in the 1980s," said Philip J. Brooks, program director in the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), "the existence of such a relationship did not prove that alcohol itself caused the cancers. More recent evidence, however, has confirmed that alcohol – or more specifically, ethanol – is carcinogenic to humans at several sites in the body." Brooks, who is the corresponding author for the study, carried out this research while he was an investigator in the NIAAA Laboratory of Neurogenetics, part of the Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research.