A gene variant suppressing the desire to drink alcohol was found. The study was published, Nov. 28, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), being the largest of its kind. The research was conducted by scientists from UT Southwestern Medical Center and their European colleagues.
The study also underlines the importance of understanding the underlying causes that contribute to people's urges to drink, especially since alcohol consumption is a major health issue.
Alcohol Consumption - A Genetic Behavior
"The findings are based on the largest genome-wide association meta-analysis and replication study to date mapping and comparing the genetics - the DNA - of more than 105,000 light and heavy social drinkers," noted Dr. David Mangelsdorf, Chair of Pharmacology at UT Southwestern and a corresponding author of the study.
The research found a variation in a gene (β-Klotho) that is linked to social alcohol consumption. Roughly 40 percent of the participants on the study were found to have a decreased desire to consume alcohol.
The European research group asked the researchers from UT Southwestern to run experiments on mice in order to get a better comprehension on the role of this protein when it comes to behavioral drinking patterns.
Health Issues Created By Alcohol Consumption
The research could be followed by further investigations, even creating drugs that could diminish people's desire to consume alcohol. As part of this study, there were no alcoholics involved, but they could also benefit from this discovery in the future.
This study is all the more important as drinking is a major health concern among medical experts in the United States, and a shift in the volumes of alcohol people ingest annually could significantly lower other health issues that are long-term effects of alcohol consumption.
For instance, even moderate drinking could negatively impact our health long-term. What is defined as two drinks per day for a man and one drink per day for a woman could cause heart issues in the long run.
"While heavy consumption of alcohol can result in heart disease and heart failure, a number of studies have suggested that light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes compared to nondrinkers," noted one of the study researchers.
While alcohol dependence can be reversed, not many alcohol consumers would be willing to undergo treatment, especially since not everyone is an alcoholic. According to research, it takes a lot of time for our body to develop addiction, and it's especially hard to quit since it does work as an antidepressant.