Drinking alcohol involves breaking down the ethanol to get the chemical out of our body. If we drink too much alcohol, the body has a hard time breaking it down. This causes too much alcohol absorption which is how we experience the negative side effects of alcohol. Luckily, the University of Pennsylvania did a study to show how a certain gene variant can cause certain people to reduce the risk of developing alcoholism.
Our DNA is our genetic makeup that gets passed down from generation to generation. Genetics is one of the many factors to what determines whether or not we have the mind of an alcoholic. A genetic variant can make you physically unable to consume large amounts of alcohol. In the University of Pennsylvania study, a genome of 2,500 people in four continents was looked at. The DNA was taken from the 1000 Genomes project which is the largest public catalog of human variation and genotype data. A gene variant is when a genetic change can be seen across an entire generation.
Five interesting variants were found such as resistance to malaria, an amino acid change, and two sections of DNA left over from interbreeding with Neanderthals. These variants either spread rapidly in different geographical locations or are independent and remained over time. Out of the five genetic variants they found, the one that interested them the most was the ADH variant which makes it hard to break down alcohol well. The smallest amount can cause you to feel sick and not be able to consume enough to develop alcoholism. This gene variant has been shown in African Americans and slightly reduces the risk of alcoholism.
This study acknowledged that this gene variant is not a cure for alcoholism but can help decrease your chances of becoming one. It is possible that this gene was in an area where there is low alcohol consumption and that the people with these gene survived and passed it on to their children. ADH variant was only detected in East Asian and West African populations so far for the past ten thousand years. This study shows that people who have this gene that can pass it down can eventually help lower the statistics of people who become alcoholics. While we still have to keep the other factors of alcoholism into consideration, this discovery can be a start to a new future.
Located in downtown Midland, The Springboard Center’s mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 432-620-0255 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.