Washington: Nearly 30 years after discovery of a link between alcohol consumption and certain forms of cancer, scientists now have the first evidence from research on humans that explains how the popular beverage may be carcinogenic. The results also suggested that people of Asian descent, Native Americans and native Alaskans are more prone to cancer risk from alcohol consumption.Silvia Balbo, PhD, 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,” said Balbo, a research associate in the laboratory of Stephen Hecht, PhD, a noted authority on cancer prevention at the University of Minnesota.
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