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Alcohol “Flush” Signals Increased Cancer Risk Among East Asians

Many people of East Asian descent possess an enzyme deficiency that causes their skin to redden, or flush, when they drink alcohol. Scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and Japan’s Kurihama Alcohol Center now caution that heavy alcohol consumption greatly increases the risk for esophageal cancer among such individuals, who comprise about 8 percent of the world’s population. Their review of recent research on this topic appears in the March 24, 2009 issue of PLoS Medicine. NIAAA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Micro RNA Implicated As Molecular Factor in Alcohol Tolerance

In recent years, a class of small molecules known as microRNAs have been found to play an important role in regulating gene products in most animal and plant species. A new study now indicates that microRNA may influence the development of alcohol tolerance, a hallmark of alcohol abuse and dependence. Researchers supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, report the findings in the July 31, 2008 issue of the journal Neuron.

Scientists Link Chromatin Modifications with Alcohol Withdrawal Anxiety

Changes to genetic material in the brain may help induce the anxiety that is characteristic of alcohol withdrawal, according to a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The finding points to possible therapies to prevent withdrawal-related anxiety, a driving force behind alcohol use among dependent individuals.

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