Pharmacological blockage of CYP2E1 and alcohol-mediated liver cancer: is the time ready?

Sebastian Mueller


Chronic alcohol consumption is a major risk factor worldwide affecting significantly both mortality and years of life lost (YLL) (1). Ca. 5% of the western world show risky alcohol consumption and in some countries such as China a regional yearly increase of alcohol consumption of over 400% has been observed recently (2,3). The liver is the major target organ of alcohol. According to the recently published ‘Global Burden of Disease Study 2010’, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer are ranked at position 12 and 16 in the global deaths statistics (1). Thus, in 2010, ca. 1 million people died from liver cirrhosis with one third directly attributable to alcohol. This is a considerable number when comparing with coronary heart disease with 7 million deaths and the leading cause of mortality. In central Europe, liver cirrhosis even ranks at the fourth position in YLL. Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) is now the most common fatal complication of patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Moreover, it shows the second fastest increase of all tumors worldwide after kidney tumors and alcohol-associated HCC ranks on third position after HCCs caused by viral hepatitis B and C.