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Review
. 2006 Feb;7(2):149-56.
doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(06)70577-0.

Alcohol and Cancer

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Review

Alcohol and Cancer

Paolo Boffetta et al. Lancet Oncol. .

Abstract

A causal association has been established between alcohol consumption and cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and, in women, breast; an association is suspected for cancers of the pancreas and lung. Evidence suggests that the effect of alcohol is modulated by polymorphisms in genes encoding enzymes for ethanol metabolism (eg, alcohol dehydrogenases, aldehyde dehydrogenases, and cytochrome P450 2E1), folate metabolism, and DNA repair. The mechanisms by which alcohol consumption exerts its carcinogenic effect have not been defined fully, although plausible events include: a genotoxic effect of acetaldehyde, the main metabolite of ethanol; increased oestrogen concentration, which is important for breast carcinogenesis; a role as solvent for tobacco carcinogens; production of reactive oxygen species and nitrogen species; and changes in folate metabolism. Alcohol consumption is increasing in many countries and is an important cause of cancer worldwide.

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