Boozing may lead to premature ageing: Study

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy claimed to have found that drinking damages part of the cells that are linked to premature ageing and cancer.

They discovered that it causes stress and inflammation to telomeres — the ends of DNA strands that stop them unravelling much like the ends of shoelaces.

As people age, telomere length shortens progressively and eventually they are so damaged that the cell dies. And the study found that alcohol accelerates this process.

“Heavy alcohol users tend to look haggard, and it is commonly thought heavy drinking leads to premature ageing and earlier onset of diseases of ageing,” lead researcher Andrea Baccarelli was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

Since telomere shortening is also believed to be increasing cancer risk, the researchers speculated that those with shorter telomeres due to heavy alcohol consumption would have an increased risk of cancer.

For their study, the researchers looked at more than 250 volunteers some of whom drank more than four alcoholic drinks per day. All the volunteers were similar in age and other factors that might affect telomere length, such as diet, physical exercise, work-related stress and environmental exposures.

Results showed that telomere length was dramatically shortened in those who consumed heavy amounts of alcohol. In some telomere length was nearly half as long as telomere length in the non-abusers.

The findings of the study were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual conference.

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