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Alcohol and Cancer: Epidemiology and Biological Mechanisms

1
Cancer Surveillance Branch, International Agency for Research on Cancer, CEDEX 08, 69372 Lyon, France
2
Nutrition and Metabolism Branch, International Agency for Research on Cancer, CEDEX 08, 69372 Lyon, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Peter Anderson
Nutrients 2021, 13(9), 3173; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13093173
Received: 23 July 2021 / Revised: 3 September 2021 / Accepted: 9 September 2021 / Published: 11 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Alcoholic Beverages on Human Health)
Approximately 4% of cancers worldwide are caused by alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of several cancer types, including cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract, liver, colorectum, and breast. In this review, we summarise the epidemiological evidence on alcohol and cancer risk and the mechanistic evidence of alcohol-mediated carcinogenesis. There are several mechanistic pathways by which the consumption of alcohol, as ethanol, is known to cause cancer, though some are still not fully understood. Ethanol’s metabolite acetaldehyde can cause DNA damage and block DNA synthesis and repair, whilst both ethanol and acetaldehyde can disrupt DNA methylation. Ethanol can also induce inflammation and oxidative stress leading to lipid peroxidation and further DNA damage. One-carbon metabolism and folate levels are also impaired by ethanol. Other known mechanisms are discussed. Further understanding of the carcinogenic properties of alcohol and its metabolites will inform future research, but there is already a need for comprehensive alcohol control and cancer prevention strategies to reduce the burden of cancer attributable to alcohol. View Full-Text
Keywords: alcohol; acetaldehyde; oxidative stress; inflammation; one carbon metabolism; lipid metabolism; DNA damage; cancer; carcinogenesis alcohol; acetaldehyde; oxidative stress; inflammation; one carbon metabolism; lipid metabolism; DNA damage; cancer; carcinogenesis
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MDPI and ACS Style

Rumgay, H.; Murphy, N.; Ferrari, P.; Soerjomataram, I. Alcohol and Cancer: Epidemiology and Biological Mechanisms. Nutrients 2021, 13, 3173. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13093173

AMA Style

Rumgay H, Murphy N, Ferrari P, Soerjomataram I. Alcohol and Cancer: Epidemiology and Biological Mechanisms. Nutrients. 2021; 13(9):3173. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13093173

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rumgay, Harriet, Neil Murphy, Pietro Ferrari, and Isabelle Soerjomataram. 2021. "Alcohol and Cancer: Epidemiology and Biological Mechanisms" Nutrients 13, no. 9: 3173. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13093173

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