A new study suggests that East Asians are more likely to develop stomach cancer due to a lower alcohol tolerance

A new study led by researchers in Japan shows that East Asians are more likely to develop a more aggressive type of stomach cancer due to their higher risk of alcohol intolerance.

The researchers’ findings, published this week in the scientific journal Nature Genetics, link lower alcohol tolerance to an increased risk of metastatic gastric cancer, a rare type of stomach cancer that affects more than one area of ​​the stomach.

The study — which collected cells from nearly 1,500 stomach cancer patients in Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore and the United States — is the first comprehensive genetic analysis of stomach cancer, said Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer of the American Cancer Society.

“There is an interesting combination between the evolution of mutations and genotype specific to East Asians, which interferes with alcohol metabolism,” said Dahut, who was not involved in the study. “It appears that if they have this genotype, they are more likely to develop a specific tumor mutation.”

Populations in East Asia have long been disproportionately affected by stomach cancer compared to populations in Western countries. Half of stomach cancer cases worldwide occur in China, and the most common type of cancer among men is in Japan. However, in the United States, stomach cancer accounts for only about 1.5% of all new cancers diagnosed annually.

People of East Asian heritage are more likely to inherit a genetic mutation not commonly seen in other ethnic groups that impairs the ability to metabolize alcohol. This is the same mutation responsible for the redness of the face after drinking that’s often referred to as the “Asian glow,” according to study co-author Tatsuhiro Shibata.

Shibata, who heads the Cancer Genome Division at the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Japan, said he hopes these findings will make it easier for researchers to spot patterns in the onset of stomach cancer.

“We may develop a certain way to detect regions and possibly prevent some types of cancer,” he said.

Ajay Goel, who researches gastrointestinal cancer screening at City of Hope Medical Center in California, said the inability of many East Asians to properly process alcohol enables them to sit in the stomach for a long time, which makes drinkers more susceptible to inflammatory bowel disease. Chronic stomach. Do not participate in the new research.

“It basically leads to chronic inflammation within the stomach,” Joel said. “And ultimately, over years and years of repeated exposure, these patients tend to have an increased incidence of stomach cancer.”

Stomach cancer cases are also statistically more common among men than among women. Joel said this makes sense from a behavioral perspective rather than due to any inherent genetic factors. Data shows that East Asian men tend to consume significantly more alcohol than their female counterparts.

As with any type of cancer, early detection is crucial for treating stomach cancer. But because it is relatively rare in the West compared to other types, such as breast, cervical, and colon cancer, the United States does not routinely screen for stomach cancer.

“It’s increasingly important information about the power of knowing an individual’s genomics,” Dahut said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com


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