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Beer Science

Alcohol Can Cause Irreversible Genetic Damage To Stem Cells, Says Study (theguardian.com) 145

A new study, published on Wednesday, states that 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. From a report: The research, using genetically modified mice, provides the most compelling evidence to date that alcohol causes cancer by scrambling the DNA in cells, eventually leading to deadly mutations. During the past decade, there has been mounting evidence of the link between drinking and the risk of certain cancers. "How exactly alcohol causes damage to us is controversial," said Prof Ketan Patel, who led the work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. "This paper provides very strong evidence that an alcohol metabolite causes DNA damage [including] to the all-important stem cells that go on to make tissues." The study builds on previous work that had pinpointed a breakdown product of alcohol, called acetaldehyde, as a toxin that can damage the DNA within cells. However, these earlier studies had relied on extremely high concentrations of acetaldehyde and used cells in a dish rather than tracking its effects within the body.
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Alcohol Can Cause Irreversible Genetic Damage To Stem Cells, Says Study

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  • Anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2018 @01:42PM (#55857047)

    Hi,

    I'm in my mid thirties, rather accomplished, with a very good job (tech) that I like, family with 2 kids etc. I drink way too much however and I fear I'm already borderline alcoholic. I've recently found this 'high functioning alcoholism' term and realized this is me. Which scares me a lot. I do know people that drink a lot in my family (I'm from eastern Europe...) and until recently I've never considered myself similar to them. For the record, I'm drinking on average 5 evenings per week, between half and a full bottle of wine (which is not that much, certainly I got used to it, so it doesn't put me in the drunk mode neither).

    I keep an 'inner scorecard' which means I evaluate myself against what I used to be, and what I think I can accomplish (did I perform / accomplish something up to my potential, or did I just did a half-ass effort). Funnily enough, I always somehow discarded alcohol as a factor, justifying it (to myself) that it's not that influencing. Which is of course false. I should add that I work in the evenings very often (I love what I do btw) and most of those time, I drink too when working.

    What made me realize this problem much more efficiently was running. I started quite recently and did some tests - how I perform, with the same training scheme, with and without alcohol for a period of time. Numbers don't lie. I run much better and also feel better.

    As to why I'm drinking when I'm working alone, I don't really know (other than I like the taste). Not necessarily to forget problems or something. With perspective, this amounts to huge chunks of time, which certainly impacts my work on side projects / business. Sometimes I think I drink because I'm scared to actually succeed with this side stuff, and somehow unconsciously I sabotage myself.

    Are / were you in this situation ? If you managed to stop, I would appreciate the 'how'.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My wife and I drink a lot. Almost every night. I wouldn't say we're alcoholics, but I agree, we drink too much. The problem is that craft beers (for me) and wine (for her) taste too damn good. I grab a beer because I like the taste, and likely grab another. I'm not getting drunk, and I'm fine in the morning. I'm also in my 30s, and thinking that perhaps I should be tapering off. I haven't not had a drink in a long time, so I don't know how I would perform or feel if I went a few weeks/months without it. I d

      • The thing that 'kills you' is drinking on a hangover. It's also the thing that seperates 'weekend warriors' from 'true drunks'.

        Acetaldehyde is the primary hangover poison. But that's a key you can pay attention to. If your not feeling sick in the morning, your not exceeding your livers capacity to metabolize acetaldehyde, at least not by much.

        Even if you drink like a Rusky, eat a healthy meal and your liver is good to fight again.

        Also avoid dark liquors. The shit that leaches out of barrels is much w

        • I don't really get a hangover but after I've had a few drinks I will wake up 4 am in the morning and can't get back to sleep. I've pretty much quit drinking because the next day is ruined because of lack of sleep.
          • I don't really get a hangover but after I've had a few drinks I will wake up 4 am in the morning and can't get back to sleep. I've pretty much quit drinking because the next day is ruined because of lack of sleep.

            I've, either fortunately, or unfortunately, never really been able to get "fun drunk". Drinking alcohol for me always puts me to sleep long before I have any of the more fun side-effects. Unfortunately, it's not a very quality sleep, and, yes, usually wake up really early not feeling refreshed.

            Therefore, I only drink for flavor. Never had any real motivation to drink heavy because of the side effect of falling to sleep but not getting quality sleep. Not sure if that is a blessing or a curse.

        • Take time in days for your body to repair itself after consuming alcohol. As you get older or suffer from other diseases, this time to repair takes longer and longer. Eventually the alcohol destroys more than the body can repair.

          It will usually creep up on you one day.

          • What? Unless your drinking _way_ too much that's just wrong.

            • Ask any Doctor.
              Small amounts of alcohol does do damage sadly. But unless you're examining the blood or organs closly, you'd really not notice. If you get a hangover, that's your body's way to say you've caused damage.

        • by gnick ( 1211984 )

          The thing that 'kills you' is drinking on a hangover.

          There's no hangover if you never stop drinking. When I was drinking, the only reason that there was whiskey left at the end of the night was that I was saving it for breakfast before running off to get more.

          If your not feeling sick in the morning, your not exceeding your livers capacity to metabolize acetaldehyde, at least not by much.

          That doesn't imply that your liver's not taking damage.

          Even if you drink like a Rusky, eat a healthy meal and your liver is good to fight again.

          I've got to disagree with this. I ate just fine. My liver eventually failed and damn near killed me.

          I'll be 2.5 years sober on Friday. I wasted hundreds of hours at AA meetings but never got the hang of not drinking between meetings. It finally took

          • As you say, you _never_ sobered up. Drink like Pigpen and liver failure is waiting for you.

            I doubt you were eating 'just fine', in any case the point was: 'Don't drink to the point you have hangovers, particularly don't drink on top of hangovers.'

            Alcohol below the 'hangover' level is about as bad for you as sugar.

            • by gnick ( 1211984 )

              Alcohol below the 'hangover' level is about as bad for you as sugar.

              I heard somewhere that alcohol can cause irreversible genetic damage to stem cells.

            • hangover levels vary for everyone, regardless of the total amount of alcohol consumed. Paddy the Irishman putting away a 5th in an evening will be blind drunk, but not necessarily hungover the next day. Pretty sure that's causing liver damage.

              alieve + water + sleep = reduces your chances for a hangover, but that's unrelated to whatever damage you did to your liver the night before.

              • Paddy is hungover, he's just a viking about it.

                People that can't metabolize acetaldehyde (many Asians) get much more hungover and basically can't drink.

                There are no super acetaldehyde metabolizers, just 'professional drunks' who seek out relatively low hangover booze (Vodka and Sake jump to the top of the list).

                • by gnick ( 1211984 )

                  People that can't metabolize acetaldehyde (many Asians) get much more hungover and basically can't drink.

                  My ex is Asian (1/2 Lao, 1/2 Chinese) and drinks like a champ. I suffered though some hangovers with her, but hers never seemed any worse than mine (I'm white.) We also had an Asian roommate (Lao) who drank more than me. That's quite a feat; I was literally drinking at a suicidal pace. 2 data points.

                  • Did either get 'red faced' while drinking? That's the sign of not metabolizing acetaldehyde.

                    • by gnick ( 1211984 )

                      Not that I noticed. They're darker complected than me, but I feel like I would have noticed blushing. Our roommate was incredible. She couldn't have weighed more than 100 lbs and had been drinking better than a fifth a day since well before I met her (years). The only explanation that I can come up with is that her liver is made of magic. A fifth a day shut my liver straight the fuck down and didn't waste a lot of time doing it.

              • by gnick ( 1211984 )

                Paddy the Irishman putting away a 5th in an evening will be blind drunk, but not necessarily hungover the next day.

                Paddy might not even be blind drunk. High BAC, but if he's drinking that much every night he may function just fine. It takes dedication, but it can be done.

            • by epine ( 68316 )

              Alcohol below the 'hangover' level is about as bad for you as sugar.

              Sugar: The Bitter Truth [youtube.com] — 2009, 7.5 million views

              The Hacking of the American Mind with Dr. Robert Lustig [youtube.com] — 2017

              John Yudkin: the man who tried to warn us about sugar [telegraph.co.uk] — 2014

              If you look up Robert Lustig on Wikipedia, nearly two-thirds of the studies cited there to repudiate Lustig's views were funded by Coca-Cola.

              Many serious people now believe that excess fructose (which is metabolized in the liver through much the same path

        • "Vitamin ethanol".. lol I have to steal that.

          I have a beer every night with dinner, then maybe or maybe not little bit (like a shot's worth) o' sippin' whiskey as a nightcap. Certainly nothing that affects me in the morning, I don't even like feeling drunk, I just get sleepy and stupid. Slightly relaxed is what I aim for.
          Taste is another matter: I love a good beer, irish whisky, single malt scotch, and gin & tonic. Yum. I wish they could taste exactly the way they do and be half the alcohol. And

        • Acetaldehyde is the primary hangover poison. But that's a key you can pay attention to. If your not feeling sick in the morning, your not exceeding your livers capacity to metabolize acetaldehyde, at least not by much.

          From TFS:

          The study builds on previous work that had pinpointed a breakdown product of alcohol, called acetaldehyde, as a toxin that can damage the DNA within cells.

          Those who turn red in the face after drinking (Asians often have a genetic issue that causes this, btw) should pay particular atte

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The temptation and desire to drink gets worse as you get older. The anesthetic properties of alcohol work wonders on the aches and pains of an aging body, as well as numbing the effects of aging related ennui and existential doubt.

        I find, though, that I just can't sustain regular drinking. Usually after about 3 weeks of 1-2 drinks per night something toxic builds up in me and I feel just awful and have to cut back to weekends only for a while.

        Thankfully there's cannabis. In world where I had to choose, c

      • I'm 55+ and have never drunk more than a measure or two every year.

        Just never liked the taste of beer or wine, to me they taste of alcohol and I don't like it.
        People said to me I'd grow to like it. But hey, why would I want to do that and socially drink just for the benefit of others?

        I've got a 15 year old half drunk bottle of single malt Scotch on the shelf. It's been there over 12 years. I only keep it in case a guest asks for some.

        When I see a drunk on TV or in the street and see people laughing at them,

      • The problem is that craft beers (for me) and wine (for her) taste too damn good.

        Betcha they'd lose much of their appeal without the magic ingredient, even if they tasted 100% identical to the original.

        I haven't not had a drink in a long time...

        You think that fact might be a clue about something?

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )
      Seriously, if you have this type of addiction problem, it's largely psychological. Go see a psychologist. You're most likely self-medicating. Once you figure out the problem you're medicating, you can do something about that problem then you won't feel compelled to self-medicate anymore. If you think you're not self-medicating or doing something psychological it means that you are not consciously aware of what it is. There IS a reason and it's in your head whether you know it or not. That is the sourc
    • You're drinking alone while you work probably because it helps numb your mental fatigue and/or your muscular pain from hunching over a computer.

      Here's how to stop drinking: Every time you crave some alcohol, evaluate yourself for why you are craving it; if you notice that your neck/shoulders are killing you, or that you're actually kind of tired, then take a damn break! Do some exercises, or stretching, or take a nap, or get a snack. Eventually, you'll retrain the AI in your head to associate those alternat

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think where you are is not a problem. Just watch out when/if you starting drinking in the morning. I think that's a key factor. Drinking early in the day will push your total consumption WAY over any sane mark of "healthy".

      BTW, your drinks per day is NOTHING. 12-16 drinks for me is a normal day of drinking because that amount takes about 24 hours to burn off so I can start again. I've talked to drunks on the street and even I'm a lightweight compared to them. Just some perspective.

      With that said, the gove

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Overcoming an alcohol addiction is hard.

      Doing something hard requires compelling motivation.

      If you want to break the addiction, it isn't enough to be willing to try this or that. You have to be committed to the benefits you will gain. You have to know what kind of person you want to be, why you want to be that person, how you will benefit from being that person, and how superior those benefits are to the benefits you now get from drinking.

      Your desire to be free must be authentic. It must be real to you,

    • Late 30s, same.

      I drink more or less every night, but only ever at night, once they day's productivity is finished. Usually a bottle of wine. My whole family's the same way.

      I can easily go a week without a drink.. no withdrawal, except a desire to have a glass of wine through habit.

      I tell myself that if it becomes a problem, I might have to stop drinking completely, and that would make me sad... so I "don't" let it become a problem. Of course, the reality is that what's a problem is somewhat arbitrary, an

    • by Anonymous Coward

      While I haven't been a drinker, I did smoke and stopped the first time I tried. Here's what I did.

      Before you make any life change such as this, stop and learn a bit about how the brain works. More specifically the reward area of your brain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reward_system

      It explains so many things that you do. Learn about how it can be reset. Currently, you get a reward out of drinking. Figure out how to can get brain rewards instead from doing pushups, running or something healthy. Maybe if you

    • Re:Anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2018 @04:18PM (#55858229) Homepage Journal

      Simple answer: you need the opinion of an objective, qualified third party who has spent some time with you face to face evaluating your specific situation. What you don't need is opinions from Internet randos. Nor is it a good idea to rely on some kind of guided self-assessment. If you don't have a substance abuse problem your self-assessment would be reliable, but if you *do* then it's one of the first things to go.

      Generally if something causes you distress (including worry and undue concern), and that distress does not go away on its own after a short time, that represents *some* kind of mental health problem. What you have may be a substance abuse problem, a personality disorder (like obsessive-compulsive personality disorder), or quite possibly nothing at all but a normal, passing concern. I can't tell you which it is, nor can anyone else here.

    • Welcome to your 30's (I'm regrettably leaving mine in a few years). I've basically quit drinking outside of social situations (where I still drink more than I'd like, but less than my friends/coworkers). I originally cut back from 4-6 beers per night (similar to your wine) by switching to weed for a couple years. That brings its own negatives (particularly motivation), but it's easier for me to quit. I can take a month off weed without missing it terribly and my drinking remains very low. Even when I'm

    • by Anonymous Coward

      " ... impacts my work on side projects / business."

      You're not fooling anyone Lennart. We know what happens when you drink. :)

    • by surfcow ( 169572 )

      Start buying alcohol you don't actually enjoy drinking.

    • Hey there. I stopped drinking close to 20 years ago (in my early 20s) while I was still consuming alcohol in a socially acceptable amount for my age / social / professional status. I was REALLY into exercise and competing in natural bodybuilding shows at the time (yes, it's a very odd culture / pursuit, I know) and would stop drinking for a few months while I dieted down to my competition weight. I ended up not cutting enough weight to enter a contest and was pretty pissed, so I decided that if anything,

  • by Eloking ( 877834 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2018 @01:51PM (#55857113)

    There's a pretty huge gap between
    "Alcohol Can Cause Irreversible Genetic Damage To Stem Cells, Says Study"
    and
    "However, these earlier studies had relied on extremely high concentrations of acetaldehyde and used cells in a dish rather than tracking its effects within the body."

    Thanks but we already knew that alcoholic have an higher risk of cancer : https://www.elementsbehavioral... [elementsbe...health.com]

    But I guess I should be thankful that, for once, the real signifiant fact is inside the summary...

    • Alcohol is a disinfectant. We've known that forever. In fact, it is theorized that one of the reasons that alcohol use became ubiquitous is because alcohol drinkers lived longer / better in the days of the four humors [slashdot.org].

      Of course, there is Heinlein's observation that 'Man is not a rational animal, man is a rationalizing animal."

      • by Megol ( 3135005 )

        Not when taken internally. The reasons for alcohol abuse back in the days are easily explained by shitty lives getting easier to cope with and shitty food getting easier to consume.

        • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2018 @03:12PM (#55857759)

          Just wrong.

          Alcoholic drinks were a way of dealing with bad water. The use of alcohol increased lifespans.

          That is was (in the case of beer, not wine) the boiling step in the preparation of the drink that provided the benefit is irrelevant. They didn't know that and never ran the experiment.

          • "That is was (in the case of beer, not wine) the boiling step in the preparation of the drink that provided the benefit is irrelevant. They didn't know that and never ran the experiment."

            Tea drinkers in Asia worked it out

            • Did they?

              That assumes they started boiling water for sanitation and skipped the tea. Bet they ascribed the benefit to the tea, not the boiling.

          • It's also pertinent to note that older/ancient alcoholic beverages contained much less alcohol than modern variants.

            • No. Certainly not 'much less' or it wouldn't have had antiseptic properties.

              Grape juice just becomes wine with time. It was considered a gift from God, at least in part because of the mystery of how that happens.

              It is true that wine was often watered, when drunk for thirst. But come 'wedding feast' full strength.

              • Beer did have lower amounts of alcohol as, I believe, it was around 2-4% abv as opposed to today 5-8% abv. Mead is similar but I am not as sure for that one. I should have been specific.

                • We still have 3.2% 'beer'. Granting, it's unheard of outside the Bible belt, should be illegal. 8% beer isn't common now.

                  Willing to bet they made stronger beers back then too. History is long and the world is big. Where and when?

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )
      The set of things that cause cancer is pretty large. The set of things that cause death is pretty large. Pick your poison.
    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Someone managed to display a statistical correlation between alcohol consumption and a limited number of particular cancers.

      That's the rub with most of these "carcinogen" declarations.

      They are typically only relevant to particular cancers. Those particular cancers may be more or less common or easier or harder to treat.

      Alcohol fits into the "less common and easy to treat" section.

      Although your own personal genetics are much more relevant. Torturing yourself for the rest of your life won't help anything.

      • No, didn't you read the article? It's actually quite elegant research -- DNA-based, not a statistical post-facto look at various cancers.

        This sort of research is important because it helps us figure out the 'why', not the 'what', and this ties into personal genetics. For instance, people with ALDH2 mutations can minimise alcohol intake (perhaps by diluting wine with plain water, as the ancient Romans, Jews and Greeks used to).

        This article even argues dilution, paradoxically, can make the drink experience be

  • Now that the alcohol is proven haram (harmful and unclean according to the goatfucker in chief), we are waiting for studies to "scientifically" prove that eating pig causes cancer and not wearing hijab causes cancer as well (and rape).
    So forbidding alcohol, pig meat and not wearing hijabs is not to appease the bloody moslems, but because this is "scientifically proven" that they cause harm,
    It's really nothing that the fucking globalists and their subservient liberal cuckers that won't spoil to push their st

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      But that's not what the "Quoran" said. It said not to drink fermented grapes. So vodka should be perfectly fine...although I'm a bit dubious about the details. For some reason I think the vodka needs to be made from potatoes, and that beer isn't acceptable. Maybe I need to look up that quotation again some day.

      • But that's not what the "Quoran" said. It said not to drink fermented grapes.

        Jesus on the other hand, turned jars of water into wine for a wedding feast when they had already polished off the supply.

      • But that's not what the "Quoran" said. It said not to drink fermented grapes. So vodka should be perfectly fine.

        Shades of "The Thirteenth Warrior". "Honey! It's made from honey!"....

  • A "party foul" at the lab is unacceptable, JOHN! ;)

  • Wasn't Acetaldehyde shown to form in the saliva of Alcohol drinkers over a decade ago?

    I expect to hear from the usual mixture of deniers and and 'I told you so' folks now. Oh how tedious...

    So, let's wait until further studies are performed across the World and when they agree or disagree with this finding, we can make a decision then? A vain hope I know....

  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2018 @02:12PM (#55857279)
    So moderate alcohol use (supposedly) helps prevent heart disease but also (supposedly) increases your odds of cancer.

    On one hand, repairing or replacing hearts, possibly from cloned stem cells, is theoretically easier than curing cancer and repairing damaged stem cells.

    On the other hand, a heart attack is a lot more likely to catch you by surprise before you realize you need to have your heart repaired or replaced. Also, your stem cells are going to get damaged sooner or later anyways, alcohol just speeds up the process. So sooner or later we'll have to figure out how to repair or replace stem cells anyways.

    Of course that's all taking the long view. In the short(er) view, none of us are getting out of this alive. So drink up i guess?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I like to share my story with fellow techies.I was a heavy drinker. I started drinking when I was in 16 or 17, but never abused much until I was 40 or 41. Then I started drinking heavily , 1-2 bottles of Brandy or Whiskey a week and been and wine occasionally. I knew I had a problem, but I was't an alcoholic to anyone . I had a few minor accidents. Finally I started thinking about why I need to drink. The underlying problem was an unhappy relationship. That ended almost 2 years back after 16 years. I given

  • ...I need a drink!!
  • Actually, I think the title of this post explains it all - there's a few thousand miles of difference between "can cause" and "will cause."

  • The immediate questions that come to mind are how much alcohol, and how long?

    I mean, is this a beer or one mixed drink, a shot or so, a day, or are we talking alcoholics who need alcohol all the time, or the binge drinkers, who are doing it most weekend?

    I remember the Studies Proving The Killer Weed Causes Cancer. Um, yupper, they were using mice, and if you smoked that much, you'd be asleep 20 or more hours a day, and either smoking or eating the rest of your waking hours, *and* you'd need really, really p

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