Pregnancy, Babies, Parenting News & Tips

Alcohol leaves its mark on youngsters' DNA

By Staff Reporter / Dec 30, 2013 10:14 PM EST
  • Alcohol leaves its mark on youngsters' DNA
  • (Photo : Flickr) Alcohol leaves its mark on youngsters' DNA

A study begun in Mexico with the collaboration of university students analysed the effect of weekend alcohol consumption on the lipids comprising cell membrane and its genetic material, i.e. DNA. Until now, the damage to the packaging of nuclear material in the early stages of alcohol abuse has never been documented, perhaps because most of the studies are done at later stages with people who have been consuming alcohol in an addictive way for many years. The results have been published in the journal Alcohol.

Like Us on Facebook

The harmful consumption of alcoholic beverages is a global problem and constitutes a significant health, social and economic problem. According to World Health Organisation data, alcohol is responsible for 2.5 million deaths a year worldwide and youngsters between the ages of 19 and 25 account for 320,000 of them; it causes harm that goes beyond the drinker’s physical and mental health. The effects of alcohol abuse have been mostly studied in people who have been consuming alcohol for a long time and who therefore display symptoms ranging from liver damage to various types of cancer, depression and disorders of the nervous system. That is why this study is pioneering because it deals with the effect of alcohol on young, healthy people.

The idea of studying the oxidative effect of weekend alcohol consumption came about when the researcher Adela Rendón was lecturing in Clinical Biochemistry at the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico. Many of the students turning up for class first thing on Monday morning displayed a lack of attention and general malaise due to having drunk alcohol over the weekend. The researcher suggested to them that they should study the effects on their bodies of the weekend consumption that the students regarded as harmless. The students got involved in the project in which Jesús Velázquez (Autonomous University of Nayarit, Mexico) also participated, and after completing the necessary administrative requirements and enlisting the help of various experts in surveys and analysis, the aim of the study was specified: oxidative damage caused by the consumption of alcohol beverages in young people.

The students were divided into two groups: the control group made up of the students who did not drink alcohol and the study group of those who drank at weekends. To make sure that they were healthy individuals without any other diseases or addiction that could alter the results of the study, they underwent blood tests. The age of the students ranged between 18 and 23 and the average consumption of alcohol was 118 g, a litre and a half of beer, for example.

The activity of the alcohol enzyme dehydrogenase, responsible for metabolising ethanol into acetaldehyde, acetoacetate and acetone was measured. Oxidative damage is evaluated by a TBARS biochemical test (types that react to barbituric acid), and reflects the lipid peroxidation that affects the membrane due to the impact not only of the ethanol in the blood but also of the acetaldehyde produced by the action of the enzyme on the ethanol. Therefore, there are at least two means by which free radicals are formed and which can damage cell membrane integrity.

Although the researchers expected to find oxidative damage, they were surprised by the result, as Adela Rendón explained. “We saw that the ones who drank sustained twice as much oxidative damage compared with the group that did not consume alcohol,” and they decided to continue with a test to assess whether the DNA was also affected: the comet test. They extracted the nucleus of the lymphocytic cells in the blood and subjected it to electrophoresis. “The interesting thing is that if the chromatin is not properly compacted, if the DNA has been damaged, it leaves a halo in the electrophoresis,” which is called, “the comet tail". And in actual fact the chromatin of the exposed group left a small halo, greater than that of the control group. To be precise, the results revealed damage in 8% of the cells in the control group and 44% in the exposed group. Therefore, the exposed group had 5.3 times more damaged cells.

To be able to confirm the existence of considerable damage to the DNA, the comet tail must exceed 20 nm, and that was not the case. “Fortunately,” the researcher pointed out, “but 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.” The means by which alcohol manages to alter DNA is not yet known. The next step would be as follows: to study the re-packaging of the chromatin and the behaviour of complex mechanisms like the histones in these individuals.

“When we talk about youth alcohol abuse, we are referring to youngsters who drink alcohol without having become addicted. Addiction involves a more complex issue socially and psychologically speaking. This is social alcohol abuse,” said the researcher, “but which causes damage in the long term and you have to be aware of that.”

Provided by Elhuyar Fundazioa
Featured Video : Never Leave Your Child Alone in the Car: Parents Urged to Take Heat Stroke Seriously Before it's too late

Ice Cold Awareness—The ALS Association & The #IceBucketChallenge

In terms of marketing ploys, none may be quite as viral in these past few summer months than the “Ice Bucket Challenge” which has swept through social media by storm. The concept, simple: to either donate funds to the ALS Association or douse yourself with a bucket of ice water. And like a chain mail or massive viral text, the challenge has been spread to the corners of the United States.
Initiated by the ALS Association, a non-profit organization that supports awareness and research into Amyotropohic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the organization has picked up momentum and a bank full of funds from the freezing summertime challenge.

Read More »

Mexican Scientists Develop New Device to Monitor Developing Cardiovascular Disease

With staggering statistics of the American Heart Association and other researchers in the field of cardiology proving that Hispanics/Latinos over the age of 20 have a greater than 30 percent incidence of cardiovascular disease, researchers in Mexico have begun developing a device that will monitor cholesterol and triglyceride levels—all without a single drop of blood.

Read More »

A Fanless PC That Can Keep Its Cool And Still Be Hot—Silent Power PC

The days of the traditional tower PC as we remember them are long gone. The contemporary takes on the personal computer are far sleeker, some might even say chicer than their 90's predecessors. Processors have picked up GB's of speed, memory has expanded exponentially and mother-boards have verged on the borderline microscopic. But what's more, some companies are even ditching the essentials for a more creative approach at high-speed processing.

Read More »

An Exercise in Simplicity—Faraday Café Puts An End to the Social Age

There’s something to be said in the simplicity that we grew up in. Confined by the evolutionary limitations our voices and our feet could manage, before the turn of the digital revolution, humans were a far less social creature… at least in theory. But now that we’re so connected on the internet, and constantly looking for more ways to log on rather than hang out, there are those who think that the simplicity and personal connections we once thrived on are lost.

Read More »

Perseids Meteor Shower 2014 [August 11-12 Live Streaming & Peak Times]: Perseids Play ‘til Tuesday

With the closest extra supermoon we’ll witness for another two decades orbiting just beyond our atmosphere this past weekend, many found that the radiating light-pollution was a distraction to the real show; the Perseids meteor shower.

Read More »

Mexican Copper Mine Contaminates Both Sides of the Border—Toxic Drinking Water

While researchers at the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) are studying the results of a 140-cubic-foot oil spill in the North Sea, to identify issues and rapid response in the first 24 hours after a major spill, the Mexican government is far more preoccupied with a much more real situation of pollution near the American border. Only 25 miles south of the Mexican-American border in the province of Cananea, federal officials have reported that approximately 10 million gallons of toxic wastewater from the Buenavista copper mine have entered into nearby rivers, contaminating drinking water and causing massive die-offs in local fish/plant species.

Read More »

So Now You’re A Vegan: How One Small Bug Bite Can Change Your Appetite

Causing quite a bit of stir in parts of the Southwest, scientists discover that a rash outbreak of forced-veganism is likely due to a simple bug bite—but it’s not a temporary issue physicians say.

Read More »

Twice As Likely To Lose a Limb—How Poverty Affects Diabetes

Exposing the large gap in the current healthcare system, with a particular focus on disadvantaged populations, a new study from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UC Los Angeles reveals that lower-income individuals suffering with diabetes have a significantly larger chance of amputation than those living in wealthier areas.

Read More »

Supermoon & Perseids Meteor Shower will Cover Night Sky this Aug. 9-12 Weekend [LIVE STREAM Info]

A summer filled with many memorable moments, the image of a night sky covered in light may be one for the record books, astronomers assure. In the second installment of the supermoon trilogy that is taking place this summer, this Sunday Aug. 10 will take the record for the next two decades as the largest full moon of the quarter-Century.

Read More »

Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Vector Detained in Jail after Fleeing Medical Supervision

Sparking a state-wide manhunt in California after refusing treatment for a highly virulent strain of Tuberculosis, suspect Eduardo Rosas Cruz, 25, was recently arrested in Kern County and detained until he is medically cleared to be transferred, Deputy District Attorney for the San Joaquin County Stephen Taylor told sources.

Read More »

Scientists Find Remnants of A Dwarf White Supernova—Zombie Star of the Cosmos

Like a headline straight from an episode of Star Trek, scientists at NASA confirm that they recently discovered remnants of a “Zombie star” in the galaxy “NGC 1309”, nearly 110 million light-years away. Arising out of a very abnormal situation where an unusually weak supernova reaction obliterated only a portion of the white dwarf star, the researchers published their results yesterday, Aug. 7 in the journal Nature.

Read More »

“Xamaleón”—Defying the Laws of Creamery, One Dessert is A Chameleon in Disguise

Adding a bit of science to the sweetness of ice cream, one Spanish physicist turned culinary mastermind has created a secret weapon he calls “Xamaleón” that’ll blow your mind and your taste buds away. A man of many talents, the master inventor Manuel Linares is Barcelonian marvel, whose many talents can best be explained by his inability to settle for less.

Read More »

Real Time Analytics