Drinkers with the alcohol dehydrogenase 1C*1 gene are at greater risk of colorectal cancer

December 19, 2008

Chronic drinking is a risk factor for colorectal cancer, possibly through the effects of acetaldehyde, which is created by the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme. This study investigated if a polymorphism of the ADH1C gene that is found in Caucasians may effect acetaldehyde concentrations. Findings confirm ADH1C*1 as a genetic risk marker for colorectal tumors among people who drink more than 30 grams of alcohol per day.

Results will be published in the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer clearly stated that chronic alcohol consumption increases the risk for colorectal cancer," said Helmut K. Seitz, professor of internal medicine, gastroenterology and alcohol research at the University of Heidelberg. "This has enormous practical implications since, in many countries, alcohol consumption is high and the prevalence of colorectal cancer is increasing. In other words, one of the leading types of cancers worldwide is further stimulated by alcohol drinking." Seitz is also the study's corresponding author.

"Regular alcohol consumption of about 50 grams or approximately four drinks per day results in a 1.4-fold risk for colorectal cancer compared to non-drinkers," added Mikko Salaspuro, professor at the University of Helsinki, and a specialist in internal medicine and in gastroenterology at the Helsinki University Central Hospital.

Acetaldehyde is the first metabolite of alcohol, both researchers explained. The more acetaldehyde produced, the higher the risk of cellular DNA damage, leading to cancer. While studies of upper digestive tract cancers have strongly implicated exposure to acetaldehyde in saliva, both direct and indirect evidence also implicate the role of acetaldehyde in the cells of the colonic mucosa and cancer development in the colorectum.

For this study, Seitz and his colleagues recruited 173 individuals (138 males, 35 females) with colorectal tumors diagnosed by total colonoscopies, and 788 "control" patients (523 males, 265 females) without colorectal tumors. Whole-blood genotyping was performed on all participants.

"Our results show that individuals who metabolize alcohol to acetaldehyde more rapidly produce more acetaldehyde, and therefore have an increased risk for cancer in the colorectum," said Seitz. "This metabolism is modulated by the activity of an important enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which is genetically controlled. Thus, acetaldehyde plays a major role in alcohol-mediated carcinogenesis, and may not only be a carcinogen for the large intestine, but also for the upper aero digestive tract and the breast, as shown by other studies."

Both Seitz and Salaspuro said these findings provide a cautionary tale for certain individuals "Those with other risks for colorectal cancer may want to limit their alcohol intake to less than 30 grams per day, and possibly occasional instead of regular alcohol intake," said Seitz.

"Whether or not they are at higher risk for colorectal cancer," added Salaspuro, "all can decrease their risk if they don't drink, or drink in moderation."
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER) is the official journal of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism. Co-authors of the ACER paper, "Alcohol and Colorectal Cancer: The Role of Alcohol Dehydrogenase 1C Polymorphism," were: Nils Homann of the Department of Gastroenterology at the University of Lübeck, Germany; Inke R. König of the Institute of Medical Biometry and Statistics at the University of Lübeck; Michael Marks, Monika Benesova, Gunda Millonig, and Sebastian Mueller of the Department of Medicine and the Center of Alcohol Research, Liver Disease and Nutrition Salem Medical Center at the University of Heidelberg, Germany; and Felix Stickel of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Bern, Switzerland. The study was funded by the Dietmar Hopp Foundation, the Novartis Foundation, and the Swiss Foundation of Liver Research.

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.