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How alcohol permanently damages DNA in stem cells which subsequently increases cancer risks

How alcohol permanently damages DNA in stem cells which subsequently increases cancer risks

A regular question asked after a CLL diagnosis is whether or not to stop drinking alcohol. Hence this paper just published in Nature may be of interest, given the research concerns haematopoietic stem cells which generate our blood cells:

Alcohol and endogenous aldehydes damage chromosomes and mutate stem cells

nature.com/articles/nature2...

"Haematopoietic stem cells renew blood. Accumulation of DNA damage in these cells promotes their decline, while misrepair of this damage initiates malignancies. Here we describe the features and mutational landscape of DNA damage caused by acetaldehyde, an endogenous and alcohol-derived metabolite. This damage results in DNA double-stranded breaks that, despite stimulating recombination repair, also cause chromosome rearrangements."

Or from the much more readable NewAtlas coverage:

Now a team at Cambridge University has for the first time clearly demonstrated and described how alcohol permanently damages DNA in stem cells which subsequently increases cancer risks...:

newatlas.com/alcohol-cancer...

Of particular relevance: "The scientists further investigated how the body manages this influx of acetaldehyde (from the breakdown of alcohol - Neil). It is known that acetaldehyde is broken down in the body by a group of enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH). Many people around the world carry defective ALDH enzymes, meaning they cannot effectively clear the body of acetaldehyde after drinking alcohol. As well as explaining why some people feel inordinately unwell after drinking alcohol, this build-up of acetaldehyde can result in greater DNA damage.

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There are seven common cancers that have been confidently linked to alcohol: mouth, upper throat, laryngeal, oesophageal, breast, liver, and bowel. Further research is planned to help understand why alcohol is more likely to result in these specific cancers and not others."

Note that despite the research showing how DNA damage in haematopoietic stem cells occurs from exposure to the breakdown product from alcohol, CLL is not confidently linked to alcohol consumption. It is also unlikely to explain why I developed CLL/SLL, since I can still count on one hand the number of alcoholic drinks I've had...

Earlier discouraging news on this topic: healthunlocked.com/cllsuppo...

Neil

7 Replies
oldestnewest

Gulps hard and reflects on a misspent youth! 😳

Newdawn

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Yes I saw reference to this article in the National press and gulped at my misspent youth too! And did wonder.

I more or less stopped drinking 15 years ago because of feeling tired, (an early sign of my cll without me knowing as only diagnosed over a year ago). But I imagine as our blood is exposed to all sorts of toxins from the environment, self inflicted or otherwise, it could be anything.

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Oh dear. Trouble is that it’s a little bit late for me!😀 Unfortunately when younger (and even older) we tend to think that these things will never happen to us personally.

On a similar theme, 2 of my sons smoke (never inside to be fair). I have begged them to stop particularly after my diagnosis as we know that this lessens our chances dramatically with pneumonia etc... I know that CLL is not hereditary but it is familial and should they be unfortunate to inherit my CLL I want them to have the best possible health. They ask constantly what they can do for me and I always say ‘give up smoking’ but....

Peggy

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ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

a 2008 publication online that speaks of topical applications of ethanol on skin and inside the oral cavity---and the possible/probable carcinogenic effects of hand disinfectants, cosmetics like hairsprays mouthwashes, pharmaceutical preparations and many household products.

Wonder about the importance of knowing the level of our aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)—deficiency of ALDH is associated with skin irritations or contact dermatitis from use of products containing ethanol.

So, eek!

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Thanks so much for your references to very informative information Neil, I very seldom post but I follow this sight avidly.

regards cayrey

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Hmm! Another pint of Guinness while I digest all this!

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Definitely too late for me... but as you say, there is no proven link to CLL. Most of the issues are linked to the digestive system - I became anaemic a couple of years after chemo, and the doc was worried I may have a cancer of the digestive system... sent for gastroscopy and colonoscopy (not pleasant at all), but all clear. Anaemia fixed with ferrous sulphate and B12 supplement...

So - bottoms up!

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