While there is mounting evidence for the many dangers of alcohol, UK researchers recently made a discovery regarding the substance that is worth noting. Alcohol is damaging our DNA and we need to be aware of it.
This was found during a more recent study on mice. Alcohol is damaging the DNA in blood-forming stem cells. This is because of a chemical compound is known as acetaldehyde. For those who may not be aware acetaldehyde is a byproduct of the alcohol metabolisation process. This research comes from Cambridge University’s MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and shows that this compound does a lot of damage to mammal DNA.
The damage done by this compound is irreversible Professor Keta Patel who led this study told the Guardian as follows:
“How exactly alcohol causes damage to us is controversial.”
“This paper provides very strong evidence that an alcohol metabolite causes DNA damage [including] to the all-important stem cells that go on to make tissues.”
“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.”
“But it’s important to remember that alcohol clearance and DNA repair systems are not perfect and alcohol can still cause cancer in different ways, even in people whose defense mechanisms are intact.”
You see, by using a living organism these scientists were able to observe the way a body actually responds, studies like this one are crucial to better understanding what is happening to our bodies in general. For this study blood stem cells were used because they are easily replicated for DNA analysis. Stem cells could be spreading their genetic damage throughout the body as well.
Our bodies do not have a defense mechanism against this compound as Patel stated above. Patel also says that the researchers noticed enormous amounts of DNA damage in these cells and bits of DNA were actually deleted and broken. In the future, this team hopes to study why alcohol consumption is linked to some cancers and not others.
What do you think of this study? I for one find it to be a bit nervewracking and would like to see more done on the subject.