How can alcohol lead to cancer?

One of the ways in which alcohol causes cancer is through cell transcription to alter the newly produced DNA, alter chromosomes and interfere with self-repairing tissues.

Chronic alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Many factors can contribute to the development of alcohol-related cancers, including the action of acetaldehyde, the first and most toxic thing of alcohol metabolism.


Major alcohol-related enzymes and acetaldehyde metabolites are alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which are encoded by multiple genes.

Because these genes exist in several variants, and enzymes encoded by certain variants can lead to high levels of acetaldehyde leading to certain cancers. Several mechanisms of acetaldehyde can contribute to the development of alcohol-related cancers.


According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), acetaldehyde must be classified as a carcinogen. In particular, acetaldehyde stagnates long in the body leading to mucosal cell’s growth in the gastrointestinal tract. Ultimately, acetaldehyde causes inflammation and variability of cells in the trachea and impairs normal cell reproduction, enhances and damages the cells leading to cancer.

One of the ways in which acetaldehyde causes cancer is through the use of cell copy to alter the newly produced DNA, alter the chromosomes and interfere with repairing tissues. Acetaldehyde is found in saliva, which can lead to high risk of cancer of the throat. Because acetaldehyde in saliva is primarily derived from the metabolism of alcohol, if too much alcohol is added to the body it is directly proportional to the risk of cancer.


When acetaldehyde enters the digestive tract, it destroys the beneficial enzymes in the digestive tract. If the stomach cavity contains a lot of alcohol, it leaves no place for oxygen, which converts carbohydrates into acetaldehyde and ethanol, leading to the development of stomach cancer.

Alcohol makes it easier for cancer-causing chemicals to penetrate the body. For example, for smokers, smoking itself is a strong factor causing cancer with over 70 carcinogens. In smokers, alcohol has the effect of enhancing the body's ability to absorb carcinogens, which increases the risk of cancer.

In addition, alcohol is an antagonist of folate, when it is poured into the body, which changes the metabolism of folate which reduces the body's ability to absorb it. Folate deficiency is caused by interactions with ethanol, which interferes with the methylation of DNA, which in turn can lead to cancer.

According to experts, no drinking threshold is considered safe. Therefore, the best people should not drink alcohol, if you drink, you should be limited. To minimize the effects of alcohol on health, healthy people should not drink more than 2 units of alcohol a day. According to the World Health Organization, an alcoholic unit is equal to 10 g of pure alcohol, equivalent to 3/4 of a bottle of 330 ml beer (5%), a glass of 100 ml wine (13.5 or a 30ml bottle of strong wine(40%).

By: Oralie Smith

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