FIRST AIRED: January 4, 2018

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00:00:01
>> As millions of people take part in dry January, following the excesses of new year’s celebrations, new research suggests staying off the booze could save you from more than hangovers. Scientists have shown how alcohol can damage DNA, explaining why drinking increases the risk of cancer.>> A missing part of the whole puzzle is how precisely alcohol causes damage to us.
00:00:23
And what our research shows is that alcohol as it's being processed by the body and converted into energy transiently accumulates as a toxin which attacks DNA in a fundamental manner and damages the genetic information that constitutes the code of life.>> For the study scientists gave ethanol to mice.
00:00:41
They then used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to examine the genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, a harmful chemicals produced when the body processes alcohol. They found that the chemical can break and damage DNA within blood stem cells. That's a problem because seven cancers including common types like breast and bowel cancer develop because of damage in those cells.
00:01:05
The study funded by Cancer Research UK, the Welcome Trust, and the Medical Research Council also examined how the body protects itself from alcohol damage. Including enzymes that break down aceteldahyde and DNA repair systems. But those defense mechanisms are not 100% fail proof. A reason perhaps to watch how much you drink this month or any other month of the year.
00:01:27
>>
LAUGH]