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How alcohol increases cancer risk

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Health Desk: 04 January 2018: New research published on Wednesday said, drinking alcohol produces a harmful chemical in the body which can lead to permanent genetic damage in the DNA of stem cells, increasing the risk of cancer developing.

While working with mice in a laboratory, British scientists used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to examine the genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, a harmful chemical produced when the body processes alcohol.

Their findings offered more detail about how alcohol increases the risk of developing 7 types of cancer, including common forms such as breast and bowel cancer. It also showed how the body seeks to defend against the damage alcohol can do.

“Some cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells. While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage,” said Ketan Patel, a professor at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, who co-led the study.

The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, citing “convincing evidence” it causes cancer in humans.