I love alcohol. I enjoy imbibing this precious resource that our government takes great pleasure in taxing heavily. This is an article I would rather not write, but write I must as yours truly cares about the health of our readership. I know, najaribu kuwaharibia Friday, lakini lazima ukweli usemwe! It is with great sadness that I announce the results of a study done by British scientists.
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, according to research published on Wednesday. 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 it.
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. Ketan Patel, a professor at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, who co-led the study wrote:
“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.”
The researchers also looked at how the body tries to protect itself against damage caused by alcohol. The first line of defense is a group of enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenases or ALDHs, Patel explained. These break down the acetaldehyde into acetate, which cells can then use as a source of energy.
In the study, when mice lacking a critical ALDH enzyme were given alcohol, their DNA suffered four times as damage compared with mice with a properly functioning version of the enzyme. Patel said cells also have a second line of defense in the form of a range of DNA repair systems which, most of the time, allow them to fix and reverse different types of DNA damage.
There you have it people. Pombe bado mtakunywa ama?