Preprint Brief Report Version 1 This version not peer reviewed

A Simple Way to Reduce the Risk of Cancer of the Oral Cavity, Pharynx, Larynx and Esophagus in Alcohol Users

Version 1 : Received: 26 July 2017 / Approved: 27 July 2017 / Online: 27 July 2017 (12:34:00 CEST)

How to cite: Guillén-Mancina, E.; Calderón-Montaño, J.M.; López-Lázaro, M. A Simple Way to Reduce the Risk of Cancer of the Oral Cavity, Pharynx, Larynx and Esophagus in Alcohol Users. Preprints 2017, 2017070079 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201707.0079.v1). Guillén-Mancina, E.; Calderón-Montaño, J.M.; López-Lázaro, M. A Simple Way to Reduce the Risk of Cancer of the Oral Cavity, Pharynx, Larynx and Esophagus in Alcohol Users. Preprints 2017, 2017070079 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201707.0079.v1).

Abstract

Almost 6% of cancers worldwide are attributable to alcohol consumption. Approximately half of them occur in tissues highly exposed to ethanol, such as the oral cavity, pharynx, upper larynx and esophagus. However, since ethanol is not mutagenic and the carcinogenic metabolite of ethanol (acetaldehyde) is mainly produced in the liver, it is unclear why alcohol consumption preferentially causes a local carcinogenic effect. We recently hypothesized that the cytotoxic activity of ethanol could explain the high risk of these cancers in alcohol users. Here we report that short-term exposures (2-3 seconds) to ethanol concentrations between 10% and 15% start to cause a marked cytotoxic effect on human epithelial keratinocytes in a concentration-dependent manner. After discussing new evidence that cancer is the end-result of the accumulation of cell divisions in stem cells, we explain why regular alcohol consumption imposes a high risk of cancer on these tissues. Briefly, the cytotoxicity of ethanol reduces the lifespan of the cells lining these tissues. The stem cells located in deeper layers need to divide more often than usual to renew the damaged epithelia. The accumulation of cell divisions in stem cells leads to the accumulation of cancer-promoting errors (e.g., mutations arising during DNA replication) that increase their risk of malignant transformation. Cell division also exposes the DNA of the stem cells to the genotoxic activity of acetaldehyde and tobacco carcinogens. We propose that choosing alcoholic beverages containing non-cytotoxic concentrations of ethanol, or diluting ethanol to non-cytotoxic concentrations, is a simple way to reduce the risk of cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and esophagus in alcohol users. This preventive strategy may also abolish the known synergistic effect of alcohol drinking and tobacco smoking on the risk of these cancers.

Subject Areas

alcohol consumption; tobacco smoking; carcinogenesis; addiction; stem cells; stem cell division theory of cancer

Readers' Comments and Ratings (1)

Comment 1
Received: 6 February 2018
Commenter: Miguel Lopez-Lazaro
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: This preprint is published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence:
Guillén-Mancina E, Calderón-Montaño JM, López-Lázaro M. Avoiding the ingestion of cytotoxic concentrations of ethanol may reduce the risk of cancer associated with alcohol consumption. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018; 183:201-204. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.11.013
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