A Stiff Drink With Your Cigarette May Influence Lung Cancer
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In findings that suggest regular drinking may influence lung cancer risk in smokers, researchers have discovered that people with lung cancer who are drinkers are more likely to have a specific type of gene mutation in their tu
The mutation is in the p53 gene, a tumor suppressor that is the most commonly mutated gene seen in many types of cancer.
While it is not clear what role p53 mutations play in lung cancer, some research has linked the mutation to lower survival, Dr. Steven A. Ahrendt from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee told Reuters Health. For smokers, the addition of regular drinking could make them more prone to a p53 mutation and, therefore, a more aggressive lung cancer, he said.
In a study of 105 lung cancer patients, Ahrendt and colleagues found that mutations in the p53 gene showed up in 76% of smokers who drank an average of one drink per day during the 20 years before their cancer diagnosis. In contrast, mutations occurred in 42% of smokers who drank little or no alcohol.
And just one out of seven (14%) nonsmoking, nondrinking study participants carried a p53 mutation, the authors report in the June 15th issue of Cancer Research.
Ahrendt said alcohol may increase the lung's exposure to tobacco carcinogens by interfering with enzymes that help detoxify tobacco smoke once it is in the body.
People who do not smoke, Ahrendt noted, should not be concerned that moderate drinking will increase their lung cancer risk.