|But link wasn’t seen with wine or hard liquor, researchers say
By Alan Mozes
MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) — Heavy beer drinkers who carry a gene mutation involved in the metabolism of alcohol may face a higher risk than others of developing stomach cancer, new European research suggests.
Having a certain genetic variant and drinking roughly three 12-ounce cans or more of beer a day appears to markedly increase the risk of “non-cardia gastric cancer,” a study found.
“For now, if people want to know whether they should go out and get tested for this variant or whether they should stop drinking if they’re heavy beer drinkers, I would basically say that we’re not there yet,” added Duell.
“All we can currently say is that the genetic variant is associated with increased risk, heavy drinking is associated with increased risk, and when the two are together, the risk is even worse,” he noted.
The study focused on the “rs1230025 variant” located among a group of three genes already linked to alcohol digestion.
And although the results focus on the coupling of the mutation with heavy drinking, the authors also found that either factor on its own also raised stomach cancer risk, although less dramatically. Namely, cancer risk was elevated among non-drinkers bearing the mutation and among heavy drinkers without the mutation.
Duell and his colleagues are slated to present their findings Monday in Orlando, Fla., at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Findings presented at meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The team linked a 75 percent bump in gastric cancer risk to consumption of 30 grams or more of pure ethanol/alcohol a day in the form of beer. A standard 12-ounce can of beer contains 13 grams of pure ethanol/alcohol, they noted. Wine and hard liquor did not appear to increase cancer risk.
Europeans who drank heavily and also carried the gene mutation in question demonstrated an even higher stomach cancer risk, the researchers found.
The mutations analyzed are common, said Duell. “I don’t know what it would be in the U.S., but among our European population about 20 percent carried this variant. So it’s not rare,” he explained.
“But gastric cancer is multi-factorial,” he added. “There are many, many causes. So it’s important to note that someone who’s a heavy drinker may never get gastric cancer, and that clearly there are other health problems associated with gastric cancer that play a role.”