After a long week of work, many young Americans will have an alcoholic beverage or two, in order to celebrate. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that four of five college students in the United States drink alcohol. Published in the journal Alcohol, new research found that the average intake of 118 grams of ethanol/week can cause DNA damage.
Co-author Jesús Velázquez of the Autonomous of University of Nayarit in Mexico, and researchers have been studying the effects of alcohol consumption for many years. Individuals usually result in the following illnesses because of alcohol consumption: liver damage, cancer, and depression. The investigators, however, state that this study is “pioneering”, because it analyzes the effects of alcohol on young, healthy people.
The study was carried out with two groups of individuals, one who drank alcohol (Youngsters Exposed to Alcohol) with an average ethanol intake of 118 grams of ethanol per week, and a control group of non-drinkers. The individuals’ blood counts, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity, glutathione peroxidase activity, oxidative damage to DNA, and lipid peroxidation were determined in both groups.
The blood measurements of both groups were similar with no sign of liver damage; however, ADH activity, lipid peroxidation, and percentage of damaged DNA cells were higher in the group exposed to alcohol in comparison to the control group. Specifically, 8% of the cells were damaged in the control group, but 44% were damaged in the drinking group. This means the drinking group had 5.3 times more damage to their cells.
The researchers noted, “The fact is, there should not have been any damage at all because they had not been consuming alcohol for very long, they had not been exposed in a chronic way."
More research must take place due to other research studies implying moderate alcohol consumption may boost the immune system.