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Alcohol and cancer

e produced in normal cellular function or those produced as a result of alcohols production of oxidative damage.

Acetaldehyde is highly reactive, added Couch. It can react with amino groups on proteins, which could potentially interfere with the function of the protein. Of course, acetaldehyde can also react with other cellular constituents, including DNA.

Couch and Deitrich both noted that, even though researchers have known for a long time that alcohol increases the risk of cancer, relatively little attention has been paid to the genotoxic implications of exposure to alcohol. Deitrich had several suggestions for future research directions, some of which Couch and his colleagues already plan to pursue.

It would seem reasonable to dissect the mechanism(s) by which DNA damage takes place, said Deitrich. For example, what specific DNA damage is done, and why can't the cells repair this damage? What implications does this research have for about half of the Asian population who lack the ability to efficiently metabolize acetaldehyde? Does this relate to their greater risk of liver damage if they do drink? What implications does this have for alcoholics who are treated with Antabus (containing disulfiram) which increases the level of acetaldehyde in the body if they drink? What implications does this have for these people even if they do not drink, since Antabus inhibits the metabolism of endogenous aldehydes as well? Finally, he added, perhaps the most important future research would be to demonstrate that acetaldehyde levels that are found in the normal range after alcohol consumption will also cause this damage.


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14-Mar-2002


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