Oral oncology

Oral cancer and polymorphism of ethanol metabolising genes.

PMID 19896412


Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide and a major health problem in some parts of the world. Epidemiological studies have shown that habitual alcohol consumption could be a risk factor in oral carcinogenesis, although the true involvement of alcohol is unknown. Via alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and cytochrome P450 oxidase (CYP) alcohol is metabolized to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic compound, which plays an important role in carcinogenesis. Subsequently, and during the metabolizing process, acetaldehyde becomes acetate by acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Therefore, acetaldehyde levels are determined mainly by the action of ADH, CYP and ALDH. Recently, several studies have found that certain polymorphisms of genes encoding these enzymes confer a higher or lower metabolic activity and therefore different risk for certain malignancies such as oral cancer. In this review, we analyze the polymorphisms of alcohol metabolising enzymes in relation susceptibility to an oral cancer.