Drinking alcohol raises the risk of cancer by damaging DNA, scientists have discovered for the first time, leading health experts to call for people to cut down on their consumption.
Alcohol is contributes to more than 12,000 cases of cancer each year in Britain, but nobody had shown why it was so harmful.
Now a new study by the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University, has found that when the body processes alcohol it produces a chemical called acetaldehyde which is harmful to DNA.
The damage happens in blood stem cells, which create the red and white blood cells that carry oxygen through the body and help fight infections.
The researchers found that acetaldehyde snaps the DNA of stem cells, permanently altering the genetic code and triggering cancer.
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