‘Binge-drinking gene’ discovered

Many genes may be involved in influencing how much we drink

Scientists believe some people have a gene that hard-wires them for binge drinking by boosting levels of a happy brain chemical triggered by alcohol.

The King’s College London team found animals lacking the gene had far less desire for alcohol than those with it.

Brain scans of 663 teenage boys showed those with a version of the gene had heightened dopamine responses in tests.

During a task designed to make them anticipate a reward, these 14-year-old boys had more activity in a part of the brain called the ventral striatum which is known to be involved in dopamine release.

When the researchers later contacted the same boys at the age of 16 and asked them about their drinking habits, they found the boys with the ‘culprit’ gene drank more frequently.

The NHS definition of binge drinking is drinking heavily in a short space of time to get drunk or feel the effects of alcohol.

Reward response

Lead researcher Prof Gunter Schumann explained that while this is not proof that the gene causes binge drinking, and it is likely that many environment factors and other genes are also involved, the findings help shed light on why some people appear to be vulnerable to the allure of alcohol.

It’s likely that there is a genetic component to problem drinking, but that’s not to say that if you have this gene you should never touch alcohol or if you don’t have the gene then it will be fine for you to drink

As a hypnotherapist I see many clients for alcohol related problems. For most people the main way to reduce binge drinking is to change their behaviour around food. To give them back the control at the decision points to make a more appropriate choice.

Source : BBC News

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