Link between breast cancer and alcohol consumptions has finally been discovered, claims a research team. According to the team, the cellular mechanism involved in removing the toxicity caused by alcohol consumption produces some other toxic substances that can cause various types of breast cancers.
The research was carried out in Mexico at the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Morelos, by María de Lourdes Rodríguez-Fragoso, professor of pharmacology and toxicology. She said that ethanol or alcohol poses a potential risk of causing breast cancer as it adversely affects the cellular mechanism involved in removing toxicity from the body. Although risk of breast cancer due to alcohol was never under question, it was never proved so conclusively before.
Rodríguez-Fragoso along with her collaborators claim that they have the answer, a protein known as CYP2E1. She said that CYP2E1 is the substance that breaks down ethanol but after that is over, it degenerates into highly reactive chemicals called free radicals. The team had previously discovered that free radicals are related to those cellular mechanisms that cause tumour development. The question before them was whether toxicity induced by ethanol and presence of CYP2E1 increase the risk of cancer.
Their research findings particular to the cells of mammary gland have shown what they needed to know. They found that those cells of the mammary gland that were affected by ethanol led to increased free radical production, as well as activation of those cellular mechanisms that increase their rate of multiplication, thus leading to cancer. One feature common to all types of cancer is the abnormal multiplication of cells.
An important observation in this research was that women who had higher levels of the protein CYP2E1 are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer, if they consume alcohol, than those whose level of CYP2E1 is lower. This finding was further probed by the team. They undertook investigation of CYP2E1 expression levels in healthy women who had undergone mammaplasties. It was found that the expression of this protein varies a lot from person to person.
What this effectively implies is that individuals have varying response to alcohol, and their precautions for minimising the risk of breast cancer should be evaluated in this light. With these results in hand, the research team has expressed confidence in developing a method of breast cancer diagnosis that focuses on determining the expression levels of CYP2E1 in breast tissue. Rodríguez-Fragoso said that it can be helpful in significantly reducing new cases of breast cancer and related deaths.
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