The occurrence of more than 200 diseases, including cancer, can be attributed to alcohol drinking. The global cancer deaths attributed to alcohol-consumption rose from 243,000 in 1990 to 337,400 in 2010. In 2010, cancer deaths due to alcohol consumption accounted for 4.2% of all cancer deaths. Strong epidemiological evidence has established the causal role of alcohol in the development of various cancers, including esophageal cancer, head and neck cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. The evidence for the association between alcohol and other cancers is inconclusive. Because of the high prevalence of ALDH2∗2 allele among East Asian populations, East Asians may be more susceptible to the carcinogenic effect of alcohol, with most evidence coming from studies of esophageal cancer and head and neck cancer, while data for other cancers are more limited. The high prevalence of ALDH2∗2 allele in East Asian populations may have important public health implications and may be utilized to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related cancers among East Asians, including: 1) Identification of individuals at high risk of developing alcohol-related cancers by screening for ALDH2 polymorphism; 2) Incorporation of ALDH2 polymorphism screening into behavioral intervention program for promoting alcohol abstinence or reducing alcohol consumption; 3) Using ALDH2 polymorphism as a prognostic indicator for alcohol-related cancers; 4) Targeting ALDH2 for chemoprevention; and 5) Setting guidelines for alcohol consumption among ALDH2 deficient individuals. Future studies should evaluate whether these strategies are effective for preventing the occurrence of alcohol-related cancers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Cell Biology
- Biochemistry, medical
- Pharmacology (medical)