Acetaldehyde can cause cancer (carcinogenic formations) and is found in alcoholic beverages and many foods, such as bananas and yogurt. In addition, it can be added to fruit products.
Although the CDC has not found acetaldehyde to be a carcinogen, it still recommends limiting alcohol consumption. This is very important because the acetaldehyde present in alcoholic beverages is formed from endogenous ethanol, which was recently classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by IARC that is dangerous to humans.
There is a possibility that alcoholic beverages can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and other organs of the gastrointestinal tract. Fortunately, people who consume alcoholic beverages can limit the effects of acetaldehyde.
As for scientific references, all information was taken from scientific journals. Please use PubMed to find relevant scientific articles. Use keywords including acetaldehyde, alcohol, cancer, drinks, and cysteine. Acetaldehyde report from IARC can be found here:
Step 1. Avoid alcoholic beverages that increase the levels of acetaldehyde in the mouth
As soon as you take a sip of the alcoholic beverage, the microbes that live in the mouth instantly convert the alcohol into acetaldehyde. The bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract also convert alcohol to acetaldehyde. The liver also produces acetaldehyde through the metabolism of alcohol, which causes your body to break down over time. The bacterial germs that live in your body can no longer fight acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde, which is produced by microbes in the mouth, can lead to oral cancer, throat cancer, and similar cancers. Acetaldehyde concentration of 100 μM or more can lead to cancer. Note that the amount of acetaldehyde in alcohol ingested is not necessarily related to the amount of acetaldehyde already present in beverages. However, the amount (concentration) of alcohol in drinks and in your body is a major factor, resulting in higher levels of acetaldehyde in your mouth and in other parts of your body.
A sip of Calvados (French Apple Brandy) with 40% alcohol has been proven to produce the most acetaldehyde in the mouth (a sip is 5 ml or one teaspoon). Five minutes after this, a large amount of acetaldehyde is produced. At this stage, acetaldehyde can cause cancer.
40% pure alcohol, as well as regular vodka and other types of spirits, produces levels of acetaldehyde that can cause cancer, but a sip of this drink produces levels lower than calvados. Wine with 12.5% alcohol is also capable of producing carcinogenic levels of acetaldehyde with every 5 ml sip, but the levels of acetaldehyde are noticeably lower (the level varies depending on the specific time after consumption, but can be about half as much as with 40% alcohol).
The level of acetaldehyde production in beer with 5% alcohol is about half the level of wine, and remains below the carcinogenic threshold (although it depends on different brands / types of beer). Lager beer produces less acetaldehyde. Note that sip size can alter these results, so larger sips of beer can lead to levels of carcinogenic acetaldehyde. A sip of 5 ml of beer is not much. Just as the size of the throat can change the level of acetaldehyde, the level of the latter also changes the conditions for drinking alcohol, it is proved by scientific research.
Step 2. Avoid alcoholic beverages that contain high levels of acetaldehyde
The alcohol level in a beverage is not consistently related to the acetaldehyde content of the beverage.
Vodka and gin tend to have the lowest acetaldehyde concentration (0 to 300 μmol). The main reason is the use of a distillation apparatus for the production of these alcoholic beverages, so that the product is very pure, it is distilled several times. For the production of vodka and gin, stills or distillation columns are often used, which produce almost pure alcohol. If produced using distillation stills, then, as a rule, they are used in combination with rectification columns. The final distillation of the gin is usually done in a saucepan.
Another reason why vodka and gin do not contain acetaldehyde is that they are usually made from grains (sometimes potatoes). Fruits, unlike grains, are the main sources of acetaldehyde, as well as yeast, which is used to make alcohol. In this case, alcohol made from fruits contains up to about 26,000 μmol of acetaldehyde.
Fruit alcohol may not have acetaldehyde, but it is important to note that some fruit alcohol has up to 20,000 micromoles of acetaldehyde. Port wine, sherry and other fortified wines should be avoided as they consistently contain high levels of acetaldehyde due to aging.
The range of acetaldehyde in sherry varies from about 1000 to 12000 µmol, while in port it is from 500 to 18000. Fortified wines and cognac can contain from 0 to 5000 µmol of acetaldehyde. White wines can contain relatively low levels. Whiskey and bourbon can have relatively high levels of acetaldehyde, as they are usually prepared using distillation stills.
Beers can have up to 1500 micromoles, but on average around 200. Lagers and light beers, ales that do not have fruity aromas, should contain the lowest acetaldehyde concentrations. In addition, in mass production, beer is packaged using the most sophisticated bottling equipment, which prevents the beer from oxidizing, and therefore the concentration of acetaldehyde will be low.
Calvados contains between 500 and 1500 μmol of acetaldehyde.
Note that there is no way to determine the level of acetaldehyde in specific alcohol brands, but you can avoid consuming high-level alcohol. Be aware that beer and wine containing high levels of acetaldehyde cannot increase it further (this is not a linear relationship)
Step 3. Dilute alcoholic beverages
Use soft drinks that are unlikely to contain acetaldehyde, such as soda, seltzer, and tonic, to dilute the alcohol and acetaldehyde content. This will help keep the acetaldehyde levels low in your mouth and throat. Fruit juice may contain acetaldehyde.
As an example, one 355 ml glass of beer and one 45 ml sip of vodka have the same concentration (micromoles) of acetaldehyde. A sip of vodka and beer contains roughly the same amount of alcohol, but a sip of vodka will contain much less total acetaldehyde.
Therefore, if you dilute the vodka with soda water to achieve a total of 355 ml, the vodka drink will contain much less acetaldehyde than the beer, and will result in about the same amount of acetaldehyde as beer in your mouth.
Step 4. Maintaining oral hygiene
The fewer germs in your mouth, the better. Use a brush, floss, and alcohol-free mouthwash. Even using all of the above, you will not be able to completely get rid of the microbes living in your mouth.
Be aware that mouthwashes containing alcohol can increase the risk of oral cancers by up to five times (although some studies have not proven this)
Step 5. Take the amino acids L-cysteine before drinking alcohol
L-cysteine (not N-acetyl cycteine or NAC) instantly neutralizes acetaldehyde and reduces its levels in the body, especially in the stomach.
Step 6. After drinking an alcoholic drink, immediately wash it down with water
If after drinking alcohol it does not remain in your mouth and throat, which can facilitate conversion to acetaldehyde, then you will be able to avoid the formation of acetaldehyde in your mouth and throat. The less time acetaldehyde is in the mouth and throat, the less it will be in contact with cells. causing cancer. Of course, a certain amount of acetaldehyde will enter the stomach and lower gastrointestinal tract, and accordingly some acetaldehyde will remain. By taking L-cysteine, you will prevent the spread of acetaldehyde in your body.
Step 7. Consume alcoholic beverages as quickly as possible
Remember that every time you take a sip of an alcoholic beverage, the level of acetaldehyde increases in your mouth. Drink alcoholic beverages in one gulp so that they are in contact with your mouth and throat for as little time as possible. Make sure you do this.
Step 8. Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages
The risk of cancer caused by acetaldehyde in alcoholic beverages increases every time. This basically means that any drink increases the risk of cancer, one more drink a day will increase the risk. Three drinks will significantly increase your risk. In addition, if you drink and are intoxicated, the result will be high levels of acetaldehyde in your body even after you stop drinking alcoholic beverages.
Regular beer contains 12 ounces (33 grams), wine contains 4 and 5 ounces (11.2-14 grams), 3 ounces (8.4 grams) of fortified or dessert wines, and about 1.5 ml of spirits contain 5% alcohol. Please note that these serving sizes are based on US government health standards, and that government health standards based serving sizes will vary by country
Step 9. Never drink alcohol if your body does not have a pair of such ALDH2 genes
People without this gene will not be able to break down acetaldehyde and acetic acid (the mostly non-carcinogenic vinegar) in their bodies. Therefore, they have a higher risk of developing cancer caused by acetaldehyde. An effective ALDH2 gene pair is rare in Asian populations, and there is often one gene or two that are unusable.
Step 10. Avoid homemade alcoholic drinks
Homebrew (homebrew) and wine contain more acetaldehyde than anything on the market, very high levels of acetaldehyde have been found in homemade beer and wine. The same goes for spirits (moonshine!). Improper packaging and manufacturing methods (fermentation, etc.) can lead to high levels of acetaldehyde.
In this article, one sip is 5 ml (one teaspoon). Big or small sips can result in varying concentrations of acetaldehyde. However, keep in mind that alcohol concentration is the main factor in the beverage
It is possible that all these precautions are in vain. The CDC has not recognized acetaldehyde as a carcinogen, and articles published by the American Medical Association have shown only a partial link between alcoholism and cancer
* Learn more on this topic. Moderate alcohol consumption appears to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer (Queensland Institute for Medical Research in Australia, 2004), promote strong bones (Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, St Thomas's Hospital in London, 2004) and reduce the risk of stroke (Centers for the Control and prevention, 2001 diseases). Moderate alcohol consumption can lengthen your life, while alcohol abuse can shorten (researchers from Italy report). Their conclusion is based on pooled data from 34 large studies involving more than 1 million people, of which 94,000 are fatal.