Finding May Explain Link Between Alcohol and Certain Cancers

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Drinking alcoholic beverages has been linked to an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal cancer and other types of cancer. Researchers looking for the potential biochemical basis for this link have focused on acetaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen formed as the body metabolizes alcohol. In the journal Nucleic Acids Research (vol. 33, num. 11), scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report that polyamines, natural compounds essential for cell growth, react with acetaldehyde to trigger a series of reactions that damage DNA, an event that can lead to the formation of cancer.

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