Gene that makes you drunk quickly pinpointed

October 20th, 2010 - 4:26 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 20 (IANS) A gene that controls how quickly drink goes to your head has been identified by scientists.

The gene, CYP2E1, provides the coded instructions for making an enzyme that breaks down alcohol.

Scientists found that 10 percent to 20 percent of the population possess a particular version of the gene that causes them to get drunk easily, reports the Telegraph.

The first few drinks during a night out will leave these individuals feeling more inebriated than their friends. They are therefore more likely to stop drinking earlier, according to the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Scientists in the US investigated the genetics of 237 college student siblings who had one alcohol-dependent parent but were not alcoholics themselves.

They homed in on an end region of chromosome 10 where the CYP2E1 gene resides. Participants’ response to drinking was linked to their genetic make-up.

Students were given a mixture of alcohol and soft drinks that was equivalent to about three average alcoholic drinks.

At regular intervals they were then asked whether they felt drunk, sober, sleepy or awake.

Prof Kirk Wilhelmsen, the senior study author from the University of North Carolina, said: “We have found a gene that protects against alcoholism, and on top of that, has a very strong effect.

“But alcoholism is a very complex disease, and there are lots of complicated reasons why people drink. This may be just one of the reasons.”

CYP2E1’s effect on sobriety is probably due to the fact that it is not active in the liver, but the brain.

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