Drinking alcohol has been found to damage DNA – causing an increased chance of breast cancer and other major types of the disease.
Now researchers have found for the first time ‘a simple plausible explanation’ of why alcohol can causes our cells to go haywire – by causing damage to our DNA.
The breakthrough is claimed to explain how seven types of tumours form, including those of the mouth and throat, liver, colon, bowel and breast.
When alcohol is broken down in the body it forms a poisonous chemical, known as acetaldehyde.
Small amounts can be mopped up by our bodies. Yet too much damages stem cells in our bodies - the ‘master cells’ which generate new cells. This raises the risk they will go rogue and form cancerous tumours.
Drinking alcohol has been found to damage DNA, causing an increased risk of breast cancer
Telling students not to 'down' alcohol makes them drink more, research suggested in August.
Disapproving of drinking alcohol in one go, known as 'bolting', makes people more inclined to gulp their booze, a study review found.
Warning others about the dangers of downing drinks has no effect on the likelihood they will do it, the research adds.
Yet, telling them that most people do not bolt drinks on a night out does reduce the risk they will, the study found.
Study author Professor Charles Abraham from the University of Exeter, said: 'This demonstrates how careful we need to be in selecting the right message in campaigns, and evaluating them before wider dissemination, as poorly designed campaigns, however well-intentioned, can backfire.'
Alcohol permanently damages DNA
It has been estimated almost six per cent of all cancer deaths worldwide could be attributed to alcohol.
In the UK, booze is linked to 12,800 cases of cancer – four per cent of total cancer cases.
Of these, 3,200 cases of breast cancer are caused by alcohol, according to Cancer Research UK.
Even light drinking can slightly raise a woman's risk of breast cancer, the NHS advises.
Heavy drinkers face a greater risk