Alcohol and Cancer: Biological Basis [chapter]

Keith Singletary
2010 Bioactive Compounds and Cancer  
Key Points 1. For decades, it has been well documented that alcohol intake increases risk for cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus), especially at high levels of intake, as well as for breast, colon, and liver cancers. 2. Many types of cancer associations were observed for all types of alcoholic beverages, suggesting that ethanol is the main carcinogenic constituent of alcohol drinks. 3. Alcohol has multiple actions in modifying carcinogenesis,
more » ... g carcinogenesis, not only directly, such as disordering cell membranes, but also indirectly, such as a consequence of ethanol oxidation to acetaldehyde and other reactive intermediates. 4. The magnitude, specificity, and variability of ethanol's actions can depend on the dose and duration of exposure and on specific biochemical and molecular characteristics of the tissues to which ethanol comes in contact. 5. The possible mechanisms underlying alcohol's carcinogenicity include the causation of DNA damage by alcohol's metabolic product acetaldehyde, alcohol's effect in increasing estrogen levels, alcohol being a solvent for carcinogens, alcohol-induced generation of reactive oxygen species, alcohol-associated alterations in nutritional status, and deleterious effects of alcohol on the host immune system.
doi:10.1007/978-1-60761-627-6_31 fatcat:3u3bh2aejrh2tk36dfmixc7eay