Alcohol permanently damages DNA in stem cells, increases cancer risk: Study


Health News

Alcohol consumption permanently damages the DNA in stem cells, which in turn increases the risk of developing cancer, a study led by an Indian-origin scientist warns.

Much previous research looking at the precise ways in which alcohol causes cancer has been done in cell cultures.

However, in the new study, researchers used mice to show how alcohol exposure leads to permanent genetic damage.

Scientists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Cambridge in the UK gave diluted alcohol, chemically known as ethanol, to mice.

They then used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to examine the genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, a harmful chemical produced when the body processes alcohol.

The researchers found that acetaldehyde can break and damage DNA within blood stem cells leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently alter the DNA sequences within these cells.

“Some cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells,” said Professor Ketan Patel from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

“While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage,” said Patel, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature.

It is important to understand how the DNA blueprint within stem cells is damaged because when healthy stem cells become faulty, they can give rise to cancer, researchers said.

The new findings help us to understand how drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing seven types of cancer, including common types like breast and bowel, they said.

The study also examined how the body tries to protect itself against damage caused by alcohol. The first line of defence is a family of enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH).

These enzymes break down harmful acetaldehyde into acetate, which our cells can use as a source of energy.

Worldwide, millions of people, particularly those from South East Asia, either lack these enzymes or carry faulty versions of them, researchers said.

When they drink, acetaldehyde builds up which causes a flushed complexion, and also leads to them feeling unwell, they said.

In the study, when mice lacking the critical ALDH enzyme – ALDH2 – were given alcohol, it resulted in four times as much DNA damage in their cells compared to mice with the fully functioning ALDH2 enzyme.

The second line of defence used by cells is a variety of DNA repair systems which, most of the time, allow them to fix and reverse different types of DNA damage.

However, they do not always work and some people carry mutations which mean their cells are not able to carry out these repairs effectively.

“Our study highlights that not being able to process alcohol effectively can lead to an even higher risk of alcohol-related DNA damage and therefore certain cancers,” Patel said.

“But it is important to remember that alcohol clearance and DNA repair systems are not perfect and alcohol can still cause cancer in different ways, even in people whose defence mechanisms are intact,” he added.

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Is apple cider vinegar really a wonder food and is it worth taking?

Can vinegar aid weight loss?

Health News

Folk medicine has favoured apple cider vinegar for centuries and many claims are made for its supposed benefits.


Apple cider vinegar is made by chopping apples, covering them with water and leaving them at room temperature until the natural sugars ferment and form ethanol. Bacteria then convert this alcohol into acetic acid.


Strands of a “mother” will form in the cider. These are strained out of many products but left in others, and are often the target of health claims. The “mother” can also be used to start the production of the next batch of cider.


But will apple cider vinegar really help you lose weight, fight heart disease, control blood sugar and prevent cancer? And what about claims it is rich in enzymes and nutrients such as potassium?


Weight loss


The evidence that apple cider vinegar helps fight fat is weak.


A short-term study in Japan added two daily drinks of 15 millilitres of apple cider vinegar mixed with 250 ml of water to the usual diet of overweight men and women. Their weight fell by about one kilogram over 12 weeks, but returned to usual levels within four weeks.


According to a UK study, it may be that vinegar can suppress appetite. When offered a pleasant-tasting vinegar drink, one that was less palatable, or a non-vinegar drink with their breakfast, volunteers who downed both vinegar drinks felt slightly nauseated. Not surprisingly, this depressed their appetite, with the least palatable vinegar drink having the greatest effect.



Peepli Live’ actor Sitaram Panchal passes away


Bollywood News

Bollywood actor Sitaram Panchal passed away early morning today after battling kidney and lung cancer. He was 54.


The actor, who made his Bollywood debut in 1994 with “Bandit Queen” and went on to feature in critically-acclaimed films such as, “Peepli Live”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Paan Singh Tomar” and “Jolly LLB 2”, died at his residence here, family sources confirmed.


“He died today morning. He was suffering from cancer and was unwell. He wasn’t keeping well in the last few months,” family sources said.


The actor had celebrated his 26th wedding anniversary with his son Rishabh Panchal and wife Uma Panchal on Wednesday.


Panchal’s son had posted a picture with the actor and wished his parents– “Happy 26th anniversary mom and dad.”


Last month, Panchal had even put up a post on social media seeking financial help for his cancer treatment.


“Brothers, please help me, I have cancer, your artiste, Sitaram Panchal,” he had written.


Cine & TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) then came forward to help the actor.


“We assure him of all the help we can provide to him in his hour of need and also urge all of you to open your hearts,” it wrote at the time.


He was discharged from the hospital last month.