Party-goers and alcohol fanatics, you may not like this but you need to listen up.
Scientists have now discovered for the first time that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer because it damages your DNA.
Details of the new study
This new study is done by the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University, and they have found out that the body produces a chemical called acetaldehyde when processing alcohol.
And it goes without saying, acetaldehyde is harmful to DNA. The damage happens in our blood stem cells, which create red and white blood cells that carry oxygen through the body and help fight infections.
Acetaldehyde snaps the DNA of stem cells, permanently altering the genetic code and triggering cancer.
Professor Ketan Patel, lead author of the study said:
“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.”
Prof Malcolm Alison, Professor of Stem Cell Biology at the Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, added:
“Drinkers beware: most of our organs and tissues have stem cells, immortal cells that replenish cells lost through the likes of old age throughout our lives, and the haematopoietic (blood stem cell) system is no exception.”
Tested on mice
Poor mice, but in order to find out the effects of alcohol on the human body, scientists had to feed them diluted alcohol. Thereafter, their DNA and chromosomes are analysed.
Here are the results: Alcohol causes genetic breaks which rearrange chromosomes, altering the DNA blueprint which keeps you healthy.
And it doesn’t help that people of Chinese heritage are more likely to have the defects. In China, we are starting to see an increasing prevalence of oesophageal cancer.
Other ways alcohol increases the risk of cancer
Apart from damaging DNA, alcohol is also linked to these 6 types of cancer: liver, breast, bowel, upper throat, mouth and larynx.
It raises the level of hormones such as oestrogen in the body thereby causing breast cancer and cirrhosis (a condition in which the liver does not function properly due to long-term damage).
Alcohol also makes it easier for cancer-causing chemicals, such as those found in tobacco, to be absorbed in the mouth or throat. It also reduces the amount of folate (a B vitamin that our cells need to create new DNA correctly) in our blood.
How much is too much?
According to Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB), women should limit themselves to 1 while men to 2 standard drinks a day.
If you’re wondering, “Why got difference ah? Gender discrimation leh!”
It’s because women have a different fat-to-muscle ratio and a smaller blood volume than men. And we have lower levels of the stomach enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase which helps in the digestion of alcohol.
But man or woman, uncle or auntie, ah gong or ah mah, here’s something to discourage you from drinking too much – it makes you fat.
1 gram = 7 calories.
And for the ladies, if you’re drinking 4 or more drinks in 1 drinking session, you just won yourself a title: Binge drinker. As for the gentlemen, you need 5 or more standard drinks to gain the same designation.
Just so you know, a standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol, and is equivalent to:
- 330ml (one can) of regular beer (158 kcal)
- 100ml of wine (140 kcal)
- 30ml of hard liquor (89 kcal)
Curbing alcohol addiction
Congratulations on reaching enlightenment.
If you’re thinking of reducing that alcohol intake, or are already in the midst of doing so, here’s a bonus tip for you.
When you feel like reaching out for that wine glass, stop. Well, technically you can still grab that wine glass but instead of pouring alcohol, have yourself a glass of grape juice. Or eat a bunch of grapes.
Since grapes contain the purest form of an alcohol-making agent in them, they serve as an alternative for alcoholics. Makes perfect sense right?
And not to mention that they are rich in potassium, which help to maintain an alkaline blood balance, along with stimulating the kidneys. They also help in removing toxins from the liver and reduce the chances of cancer.
This idea is backed by a well-known book, Hepatology by Erwin Kuntz and Hans-Dieter Kuntz, stating that grapes are one of the most effective cures for an addiction to alcohol.
So go ahead, try and let us know if it works in the long run?
Take good care of yourselves, peeps!
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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com
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