Researcher Adela Rendon from the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico conducted the research by dividing his students into two groups: the control group made up of the students who did not drink alcohol and the study group of those who drank at weekends.
To make sure that they were healthy individuals without any other diseases or addiction that could alter the results of the study, they underwent blood tests.
The activity of the alcohol enzyme dehydrogenase, responsible for metabolising ethanol into acetaldehyde, acetoacetate and acetone was measured. Oxidative damage is evaluated by a TBARS biochemical test (types that react to barbituric acid), and reflects the lipid peroxidation that affects the membrane due to the impact not only of the ethanol in the blood but also of the acetaldehyde produced by the action of the enzyme on the ethanol.
Although the researchers expected to find oxidative damage, they were surprised by the result, as Adela Rendon explained. “We saw that the ones who drank sustained twice as much oxidative damage compared with the group that did not consume alcohol,” and they decided to continue with a test to assess whether the DNA was also affected: the comet test.
They extracted the nucleus of the lymphocytic cells in the blood and subjected it to electrophoresis. “The interesting thing is that if the chromatin is not properly compacted, if the DNA has been damaged, it leaves a halo in the electrophoresis,” which is called, “the comet tail”.
The results revealed damage in 8 percent of the cells in the control group and 44 percent in the exposed group. Therefore, the exposed group had 5.3 times more damaged cells.
The study is published in the journal Alcohol.