Quiz: The Alcohol-Cancer Connection

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS

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November 23, 2015

Accumulating evidence shows that ALDH2-deficient individuals are at much higher risk for esophageal cancer (specifically squamous cell carcinoma) from alcohol consumption than individuals with fully active ALDH2, even at relatively moderate intakes of alcohol.[15] It is believed that ALDH2-deficient individuals experience higher levels of acetaldehyde-related DNA and chromosomal damage when they consume alcohol, providing a likely mechanism for the increased cancer risk. Informing patients with ALDH2 deficiency, especially young people who are drinking alcohol for the first time, of their increased risk for esophageal cancer from drinking poses a valuable opportunity for cancer prevention. Of note, ALDH2 deficiency does not influence esophageal cancer risk in nondrinkers.[16]

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