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Cancers 2018, 10(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10010011

Local Acetaldehyde—An Essential Role in Alcohol-Related Upper Gastrointestinal Tract Carcinogenesis

1
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, University of Helsinki, and Helsinki University Central Hospital, University of Helsinki, Biomedicum Helsinki P.O. Box 63, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2
Research Unit on Acetaldehyde and Cancer, University of Helsinki, Biomedicum Helsinki P.O. Box 63, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 November 2017 / Revised: 20 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 5 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alcohol and Cancer)
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Abstract

The resident microbiome plays a key role in exposure of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract mucosa to acetaldehyde (ACH), a carcinogenic metabolite of ethanol. Poor oral health is a significant risk factor for oral and esophageal carcinogenesis and is characterized by a dysbiotic microbiome. Dysbiosis leads to increased growth of opportunistic pathogens (such as Candida yeasts) and may cause an up to 100% increase in the local ACH production, which is further modified by organ-specific expression and gene polymorphisms of ethanol-metabolizing and ACH-metabolizing enzymes. A point mutation in the aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 gene has randomized millions of alcohol consumers to markedly increased local ACH exposure via saliva and gastric juice, which is associated with a manifold risk for upper GI tract cancers. This human cancer model proves conclusively the causal relationship between ACH and upper GI tract carcinogenesis and provides novel possibilities for the quantitative assessment of ACH carcinogenicity in the human oropharynx. ACH formed from ethanol present in “non-alcoholic” beverages, fermented food, or added during food preparation forms a significant epidemiologic bias in cancer epidemiology. The same also concerns “free” ACH present in mutagenic concentrations in multiple beverages and foodstuffs. Local exposure to ACH is cumulative and can be reduced markedly both at the population and individual level. At best, a person would never consume tobacco, alcohol, or both. However, even smoking cessation and moderation of alcohol consumption are associated with a marked decrease in local ACH exposure and cancer risk, especially among established risk groups. View Full-Text
Keywords: acetaldehyde; ADH; alcohol; ALDH; ALDH2; cancer; ethanol; fermented food; tobacco; upper gastrointestinal tract acetaldehyde; ADH; alcohol; ALDH; ALDH2; cancer; ethanol; fermented food; tobacco; upper gastrointestinal tract
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Nieminen, M.T.; Salaspuro, M. Local Acetaldehyde—An Essential Role in Alcohol-Related Upper Gastrointestinal Tract Carcinogenesis. Cancers 2018, 10, 11.

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