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Alcohol linked to breast cancer-causing gene

22/03/2016

Alcohol linked to breast cancer-causing geneEvery year, tens of thousands of breast cancer cases diagnosed in the US and Europe are linked to alcohol consumption. Moreover, alcohol has also frequently been linked to an increased risk of cancer recurrence in women with early-stage breast cancer.

But now a new study has found that a direct link exists between alcohol, estrogen and a cancer-causing gene.

Researchers from the University of Houston in Texas, led by cancer biologist Chin-Yo Lin, say that despite breast cancer being one of the most common causes of cancer deaths for women and alcohol consumption already identified as a modifiable risk factor, 50% of women with the disease still drink some alcoholic beverages.

Lin's team discovered that alcohol promotes the expression of a cancer-causing gene called BRAF. Furthermore, it mimic and enhances the effects of estrogen, which increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

Finally, the team also found that alcohol weakened the ability of cancer drug tamoxifen to suppress cancer cell growth.

"Alcohol consumption is prevalent among women in the US and is a risk factor for breast cancer. Our research shows alcohol enhances the actions of estrogen in driving the growth of breast cancer cells and diminishes the effects of the cancer drug tamoxifen on blocking estrogen by increasing the levels of a cancer-causing gene called BRAF," said Lin.

The team's findings were published in the journal PLOS One.
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