According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism approximately 1825 University and College students die each year due to alcohol related accidents and injuries. Most young adults will have a drink or two while enjoying their youth, but this new generation has been taking it to a new level of partying, clubs, and booze. The problem isn’t so much that they drink, it’s that they tend to drink in excess, even chronically, and this can be a problem because one particularly successful study has recently suggested that this indulgence may damage DNA cells permanently.
Illness Caused By Drinking
Drinking large quantities has negative side effects outside of the damaged DNA concept; it’s a well-known fact that alcohol can cause liver problems, although these changes aren’t usually seen until later in life. The more drink consumed by older teens and young adults, the earlier this damage can be seen. Other problems occurring from over imbibing fall into the categories of depression and other forms of mental illness as well as some types of cancer.
The effects of oxidative stress on membranes, proteins, and genes vary by amount of alcohol consumption, but during one test performed by Adela Rendón and Jesús Velázquez of the Autonomous University of Nayarit in Mexico, young adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three were split into two groups. One group drank one and a half liters of beverages containing alcohol, while the others refrained. After blood tests were performed along with specialized testing to find the activity level of enzymes that metabolize ethanol to acetaldehyde, researchers were able to see what affects ethanol has on cell membranes and the lipid peroxidation. Psych Central states: “A new study analyzing the effects of weekend drinking among college students has found that oxidative damage on the lipids comprising cell membranes and its genetic material — DNA — is twice as high for students who drink.”
Researches did expect to find some damage in the individuals being tested, but the high levels that they witnessed blew them away. In some countries the drinking age is lower than others, meaning that young adults can start imbibing alcohol much younger legally at clubs, bars, and parties. This isn’t always an issue unless the youths don’t know how much is too much.
The Comet Tail
In order to test the theory that DNA is damaged, researchers used the comet method of testing, in which the electrophoresis process causes a halo to form around the cell; this halo is called a comet tail. Medical News Today relays the results, in saying: “In detail, 8% of cells were damaged in the control group, but 44% were damaged in the drinking group. This means the drinking group had 5.3 times more damage to their cells.”
There was a significant difference in comet tails for those cells taken from alcohol drinkers than those who do not drink. The comet tails were bigger for those in the test group that drank, and although none of the tails were more than twenty nanometers, there’s still a reason to be concerned that the cells have taken significant damage.
This is the first study to successfully prove that even in the early stages of alcohol abuse; there is enough damage to cause concern. In small doses, it’s been suggested that alcohol has positive effects on the human body concerning the immune system. Red wine has long been hailed as having restorative anti-aging properties due to the antioxidants that it offers to its drinkers, but all of these advantages mean nothing if moderation is not maintained while you enjoy your beverage.