Recent research now suggests that the oxidation product of alcohol, acetaldehyde, may be responsible for cancer and other health problems related to alcohol consumption. Acetaldehyde is toxic to tissues and may produce genetic mutations by damaging DNA.
Normally, alcohol is metabolized in the liver to carbon dioxide and water via several enzymatic steps. However, some people lack the gene that is responsible for the production of the enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which helps break down acetaldehyde. For those who lack this enzyme, drinking alcohol may not only be unpleasant but may have long-term health consequences. Chronic drinkers and people who over imbibe at one time may also wind up with a level of acetaldehyde in their body that may not be metabolized fast enough to prevent damage.
In fact, researcher Dr. Mikko Salaspuro, chairman of Alcohol Diseases at the University of Helsinki, noted that acetaldehyde accumulates in the gut when people drink alcohol and this may have toxic effects on all the tissues of the digestive tract. It is well known that esophageal cancer is linked to heavy alcohol consumption, but the cause has not yet been determined.
Since acetaldehyde is produced in the gut during drinking, it may be possible to break down the acetaldehyde by consuming certain drinks or food. Dr. Shibamoto's laboratory has recently shown that fresh, young barley grass juice (the same kind used in Green Magma) helps prevent the oxidation of alcohol and the production of acetaldehyde. The formation of acetaldehyde is prevented by the presence of a unique bioflavonoid, called 2"-O-glycosyisovitewxin or 2"-O-GIV, found so far only in barley grass juice.
This action of 2"-O-GIV is particularly important in light of recent research by Finnish researchers showing that acetaldehyde toxicity from alcohol consumption may be a causative factor in cancer of the esophagus and other gastrointestinal tissues. It may also play a role in other cancers as well. Over the last decade, Dr. Shibamoto's laboratory in the Environmental Toxicology Department at the University of California has published a number of peer-reviewed articles showing that 2"-O-GIV from barley grass juice is very effective at preventing the formation of two types of aldehydes, acetaldehyde, and malonaldehyde, from oxidation of lipids in plasma. In 1998, Dr. Shibamoto's laboratory published an article  demonstrating the potent ability of 2"-O-GIV in preventing the formation of acetaldehyde in beer stored at elevated temperatures for over 7 weeks. As little as 1 microgram of 2"-O-GIV per milliliter of beer inhibited the formation of acetaldehyde by more than 60%, whereas the same amount of the chemical preservative, BHT, reduced it by only 15%.
Because acetaldehyde is such a potent toxin to the body, it would seem prudent to drink some high quality barley grass juice known to contain 2"-O-GIV before, during and even after that next alcoholic drink.
1. S. Nakajima, Y. Hagiwara, H. Hagiwara, and T. Shibamoto. Effect of the antioxidant 2"-O-Glycosylisovitexin from young green barley leaves on acetaldehyde formation in beer stored at 50 degrees C for 90 days, 1998, Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry Vol. 46 (4), 1529-1531.
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