27 April 2023 In General Health

While the detrimental effects of binge drinking are well recognized, low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may be beneficial to health, although the underlying mechanism(s) remains elusive. In this opinion article, we will examine the effects of low dose alcohol consumption from the perspective of epigenetic modulation. Biochemically, alcohol is metabolized into acetate and subsequently to acetyl-coA, which can modulate histone acetylation levels. While elevated levels of acetyl-CoA are detrimental for longevity, we argue that diminished acetyl-CoA also negatively affects fatty acid biosynthesis and histone acetylation, which play a critical role in gene expression and, ultimately, health span. Since mitochondrial function and glucose metabolism, which provide the main source of nucleocytoplasmic acetyl-CoA, are compromised with age, alcohol-derived acetate could be an alternative source of acetyl-CoA to compensate. Hence, the health benefits of low ethanol consumption may be more pronounced after midlife, since mitochondrial function and/or glucose metabolism are diminished in this phase of the life course.

Indeed, various clinical alcohol consumption studies concur with this notion, and have shown that a low dose of regular alcohol intake after midlife brings about various health and survival benefits. The requirement for regular alcohol intake may also reflect the transient nature of ethanol-induced histone acetylation. Conversely, ethanol may also stimulate carcinogenesis by inhibiting DNA methylation, as it was shown to reduce various pathways leading to DNA and histone methylation. However, unlike acetylation, where ethanol directly increases the substrate for acetylation, this effect was only observed in the high alcohol exposure cohort. While alcohol-derived acetate may be beneficial for health after midlife, various detrimental effects of alcohol consumption remain, and hence, we do not advocate excessive drinking to increase acetate. This opinion article establishes a possible role of ethanol-derived acetate in achieving homeostasis and sustaining an organism's health span.

07 February 2023 In General Health

Alcohol is a widely consumed substance in the United States, however its effect on aging remains understudied. In this study of young adults, we examined whether cumulative alcohol consumption, i.e., alcohol years of beer, liquor, wine, and total alcohol, and recent binge drinking, were associated with four measures of age-related epigenetic changes via blood DNA methylation.

A random subset of study participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study underwent DNA methylation profiling using the Illumina MethylationEPIC Beadchip. Participants with alcohol consumption and methylation data at examination years 15 (n = 1,030) and 20 (n = 945) were included. Liquor and total alcohol consumption were associated with a 0.31-year (P = 0.002) and a 0.12-year (P = 0.013) greater GrimAge acceleration (GAA) per additional five alcohol years, while beer and wine consumption observed marginal (P = 0.075) and no associations (P = 0.359) with GAA, respectively.

Any recent binge drinking and the number of days of binge drinking were associated with a 1.38-year (P < 0.001) and a 0.15-year (P < 0.001) higher GAA, respectively. We observed statistical interactions between cumulative beer (P < 0.001) and total alcohol (P = 0.004) consumption with chronological age, with younger participants exhibiting a higher average in GAA compared to older participants. No associations were observed with the other measures of epigenetic aging.

These results suggest cumulative liquor and total alcohol consumption and recent binge drinking may alter age-related epigenetic changes as captured by GAA. With the increasing aging population and widespread consumption of alcohol, these findings may have potential implications for lifestyle modification to promote healthy aging.

23 February 2022 In Cancer

Alcohol consumption is thought to be one of the modifiable risk factors for colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the causality and mechanisms by which alcohol exerts its carcinogenic effect are unclear. We evaluated the association between alcohol consumption and CRC risk by analyzing data from 32 cohort studies and conducted two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis to examine for casual relationship.

To explore the effect of alcohol related DNA methylation on CRC risk, we performed an epigenetic MR analysis with data from an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS). We additionally performed gene-alcohol interaction analysis nested in the UK Biobank to assess effect modification between alcohol consumption and susceptibility genes. We discovered distinct effects of alcohol on CRC incidence and mortality from the meta-analyses, and genetic predisposition to alcohol drinking was causally associated with an increased CRC risk (OR = 1.79, 95% CI: 1.23-2.61) using two-sample MR approaches.

In epigenetic MR analysis, two alcohol-related CpG sites (cg05593667 and cg10045354 mapped to COLCA1/COLCA2 gene) were identified causally associated with an increased CRC risk (P < 8.20 x 10(-4) ). Gene-alcohol interaction analysis revealed that carriage of the risk allele of the eQTL (rs3087967) and mQTL (rs11213823) polymorphism of COLCA1/COLCA2 would interact with alcohol consumption to increase CRC risk (PInteraction = .027 and PInteraction = .016).

Our study provides comprehensive evidence to elucidate the role of alcohol in CRC and highlights that the pathogenic effect of alcohol on CRC could be partly attributed to DNA methylation by regulating the expression of COLCA1/COLCA2 gene.

06 May 2014 In Cancer




The mechanism for the observed association of alcohol consumption breast cancer risk is not known; understanding that mechanism could improve understanding of breast carcinogenesis and optimize prevention strategies. Alcohol may impact breast malignancies or tumor progression by altering DNA methylation. We examined promoter methylation of three genes, the E-cadherin, p16, and retinoic acid-binding receptor-beta(2) (RAR-beta(2)) genes in archived breast tumor tissues from participants in a population-based case-control study. Real time methylation-specific PCR was performed on 803 paraffin-embedded samples, and lifetime alcohol consumption was queried. Unordered polytomous and unconditional logistic regression were used to derive adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). RAR-beta(2) methylation was not associated with drinking. Among premenopausal women, alcohol consumption was also not associated with promoter methylation for E-cadherin and p16 genes. In case-case comparisons of postmenopausal breast cancer, compared with lifetime never drinkers, promoter methylation likelihood was increased for higher alcohol intake for E-cadherin (OR=2.39; 95% CI, 1.15-4.96), in particular for those with estrogen receptor-negative tumors (OR=4.13; 95% CI, 1.16-14.72), and decreased for p16 (OR=0.52; 95% CI, 0.29-0.92). There were indications that the association with p16 was stronger for drinking at younger ages. Methylation was also associated with drinking intensity independent of total consumption for both genes. We found alcohol consumption was associated with DNA methylation in postmenopausal breast tumors, suggesting that the association of alcohol and breast cancer may be related, at least in part, to altered methylation, and may differ by drinking pattern.




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