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Understanding the Alcohol-Stomach Cancer Connection: New Insights from a Large-scale Genomic Study


21.03.2023 - International researchers have made significant progress in understanding the relationship between alcohol intolerance and aggressive stomach cancer in East Asian populations. The study, led by Dr. Tatsuhiro Shibata of the National Cancer Center in Japan, analyzed 1,457 gastric cancer genome samples, the largest pool of such samples in the world, including 697 samples from Japan. The research was conducted under the Accelerating Research in Genomic Oncology initiative of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC-ARGO).


The study found that lower alcohol tolerance in East Asian populations increases the risk of diffuse gastric cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. The discovery of 75 driver genes, the largest discovery of its kind, offers promising implications for targeted treatment options. The team also identified 16 genomic biomarkers for gastric cancer immunotherapy, providing comprehensive insights into the genomics of gastric cancers in Japan and the potential to develop more effective treatments and improved prognosis for patients.


Dr. Tatsuhiro Shibata explained to alcoholandcancer.eu: "Our genomic analysis reveals an association between the development of diffuse gastric cancer, a disease with a poor prognosis, and alcohol consumption. In particular, individuals with certain genetic variants of lower activity to metabolize alcohol are at higher risk. Our study found that alcohol consumption induces specific cancer driver mutations that lead to gastric cancer. Further clinical studies, such as screening for alcohol-induced mutation burden in the population, may lead to more effective prevention strategies."


The researchers revealed an association between the onset of diffuse gastric cancer and alcohol consumption, suggesting that further studies into the etiological mechanisms could lead to more effective prevention strategies. The findings are expected to elucidate therapeutic targets and biomarkers for gastric cancer in Japan and immunotherapy, presenting a comprehensive understanding of the disease and leading to the development of new treatments.


The extensive study, which involved institutions such as the National Cancer Center, the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the Institute of Medical Science, both of the University of Tokyo, Yokohama City University, and Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore, was published in the journal Nature Genetics on March 13, 2023.



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