Researchers Find Potential Link Between Drinking Alcohol And Breast Cancer
SAN DIEGO, April 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A research team this week will present findings that they say may finally explain the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer.
"Cells have different mechanisms to remove toxic substances, such as ethanol, the chemical name for alcohol, that represent a potential risk to them," explains Maria de Lourdes Rodriguez-Fragoso, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Morelos in Mexico. "Unfortunately, sometimes these mechanisms produce other toxic substances, including some that are associated with the development of different types of cancer."
At 12:25 p.m. Monday, April 23, Rodriguez-Fragoso will present her group's work at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology 2012 conference in San Diego.
Alcohol consumption has long been established as a risk factor for breast cancer. But finding the direct link that makes it so has, so far, proved elusive. Now, Rodriguez-Fragoso and her collaborators think that they have found the answer, a protein called CYP2E1."We knew that CYP2E1 could break down ethanol and that doing so created unstable, highly reactive chemicals known as free radicals," she says. Working with researcher Scott Burchiel and his group at the University of New Mexico, Rodriguez-Fragoso's team had previously found that free radicals were associated with activation of cellular mechanisms that lead to tumor development. "The question then was, does having more CYP2E1 make you more susceptible to ethanol-induced toxicity, thereby increasing your risk of developing cancer?" CYP2E1 is found in breast cells known as mammary epithelial cells, which are also where most breast cancers originate, suggesting to the researchers that CYP2E1 may be involved in breast cancer development. To test this hypothesis, the researchers administered ethanol to separate cultures of mammary epithelial cells that had varying levels of CYP2E1. Cells that expressed low levels of CYP2E1 were mostly immune to the effects of the ethanol treatment; however, cells with increased amounts of CYP2E1 protein were greatly affected, suggesting that women with higher expression levels of the protein would show similar responses.
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