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Research clarifies alcohol-cancer connection

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Though scientists have theorized that alcohol consumption increases the risk of several types of cancer, new research has clarified, for the first time, the mechanisms in place that allow alcohol to abet progression of the diseases.

A study which will be published in the January 2010 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research determined that a passageway called the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) likely plays a part in the process which causes cancer cells affected by alcohol to grow and spread, HealthDay News reports.

The study's conclusions emerged from a comparison of four alcoholic men to four healthy men.

Researchers say the study supports the belief that alcohol promotes cancer progression by stimulating EMT. "Our data are the first to show that alcohol turns on cell signals as well as biomarkers characteristic of EMT in cancer cells," said the study's co-author Dr Christopher Forsyth. "This now provides a new target for therapeutic intervention for treatment of alcohol-related cancers and for prevention of alcohol-related cancer metastasis."

Alcohol is known to increase the risk of developing cancers of the esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends lab tests to diagnose each of these diseases.

The NCI says that as many as 80 percent of patients with oral cancer drink alcohol frequently.

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