Technology Health: genetics, a key factor in the development of liver cancer in people who drink a lot of alcohol

Health: genetics, a key factor in the development of liver cancer in people who drink a lot of alcohol

“Alcohol abuse is dangerous for health”: this prevention message is now known to all. On the other hand, we have just discovered that alcohol is even more dangerous for some than for others. Indeed, a team of researchers from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), the University of Paris and La Sorbonne, confirmed in a study published Monday, December 13 that liver cancer is in particular a history of genetics in certain patients with excessive and chronic alcohol consumption.

Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the causes of liver cancer, but not all heavy drinkers develop tumors. And for good reason: if three genes influencing the risk of developing this cancer risk were already known, these researchers have just discovered a fourth.

We all have this gene. However, by following 4,000 patients with liver disease caused by alcohol, the researchers found that a third of the participants had a protective version of it against liver cancer. The other two-thirds have a modified form, which increases the risk of a tumor.

This is especially not to say that people with the right gene can drink as much alcohol as they want, as this unfortunately has other health consequences than liver cancer. On the other hand, in the event of liver disease which starts, this discovery should make it possible to better understand the individual risk of progression to cancer, explains Professor Jessica Zucman-Rossi, who led this work. This discovery could also, in the future, make it possible to further personalize treatments for liver cancer.

Alcohol is the leading cause of hospitalization in France. According to a collective Inserm expert report, published in June 2021, it is responsible for 41,000 deaths each year in France and the cause of around sixty illnesses in total. In fact, seven cancers have a proven link with alcohol from one drink per day, such as those of the throat, colon or breast in particular.

It is therefore necessary to remember the good benchmarks of consumption: maximum two glasses per day and not every day. Studies show that when you manage to reduce your consumption for a few weeks, for example during a “month without alcohol”, this change in habit usually lasts quite a long time, up to six months.

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