A new study finds that resveratrol – a chemical found in grape skins and red wine – may protect against cancer, despite the alcohol content of red wine being a risk factor for head and neck cancer.
Scientists have drawn most of their knowledge on the relationship between alcohol and cancer from the study of a disease called Fanconi anemia. This disease affects 1 in 350,000 babies and is characterized by the inability to repair tangles of DNA known as “cross links.”
The lack of repair causes damaged DNA to accumulate, which puts the patient at increased risk of developing leukemia and cancers of the head or neck.
Both alcohol-caused cancer and the genetic accelerator of cancer in Fanconi anemia are driven by the same mechanism: partially metabolized alcohol.
In the initial stages of metabolizing alcohol, the body converts alcohol to acetyl aldehyde, before converting it into acetic acid using aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
However, acetyl aldehyde is a carcinogen and produces DNA cross links, which puts Fanconi anemia patients at higher risk of cancer because they are unable to repair the DNA damage caused by acetyl aldehyde.
If the patient also lacks ALDH, then their risk for cancer is even higher.
Red wine drinkers have ‘lowest incidence of alcohol-caused cancer’
“With enough alcohol, the body can get behind and end up with a backlog of acetyl aldehyde,” says study author Robert Sclafani, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center… click here to learn more.