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Friday 28th October 2016

Cancer risk shows in alcohol flush

14th April 2009

Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism have said that facial flushing after drinking alcoholic drinks could be the sign of a raised risk of oesophageal cancer.


About 8% of the population lack a functioning copy of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), which makes their skin redden after they have consumed alcohol.

Dr Phillip Brooks and his colleagues discovered that people who were deficient in this gene - who are usually of East Asian descent - had a raised danger of developing gullet cancer.

The researchers said that people deficient in ALDH2 had six to ten times the  probability of developing the cancer than people with the gene who drank similar quantities of alcohol.

For the purposes of the report, the researchers said light drinking was less than 25 UK units of alcohol per week, moderate was less than 50 UK units and heavy drinking was over 50 UK units per week.

Dr Brooks said: "Cancer of the oesophagus is particularly deadly, with five-year survival rates ranging from 12% to 31% throughout the world. And we estimate that at least 540 million people have this alcohol-related increased risk for oesophageal cancer."

"We hope that, by raising awareness of this important public health problem, affected individuals who drink will reduce their cancer risk by limiting their alcohol consumption."


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