Stay on target
Do you tend to (stupidly) drink yourself into oblivion when you head out to the bar or hang out with friends? You might not just be making terrible choices. It might not be the booze making you lose your mind while you make a fool of yourself. It’s possible you can blame it all on your genes, rather than the alcohol.
A recent report indicates that researchers may very well have discovered a gene that could explain why so many people gravitate to alcohol as though it were some sort of an irresistible siren and why others simply don’t care for the stuff at all. It’s called beta-Klotho, and those with this particular gene tend to shy away from drowning in beer, while those without it are much less discerning when it comes to what and how much they imbibe.
Researchers tested this theory on mice, and they displayed those results: they tended to enjoy alcohol a lot more when they lacked this gene. In a study of over 100,000 people of European descent, researchers found people who had one version of beta-Klotho ended up reporting that they drank less on average. According to Dr. David Mangelsdorf of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who worked on the study, there was an apparent variation between people with and without the gene when it came to drinking preferences.
Out of the individuals in the study, about 42 percent of individuals involved had the low-drinking version of the gene, which is different regarding a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) from the one that was seen in most people. This variation, Mangelsdorf and the rest of the researchers hope, could eventually be used as the basis for improvement upon treatment of those plagued by alcoholism or a penchant for drinking a little too much.
This could mean a world of difference when it comes to affecting health on a global scale. “Excessive alcohol consumption is a major public health problem worldwide, causing an estimated 3.3 million deaths in 2012,” Mangelsdorf wrote in the latest report on the special gene.
In fact, out of the 140 million Americans who drink alcohol, about 23 percent of them could be sorted into the binge drinker category, which is comprised of four to five drinks in a row. Worse still, 6 percent are heavy drinkers who binge drink several days out of the month.
Hopefully, further research into what this gene actually means and its absence or presence in human beings will result in better, more thorough ways to help plan and bring treatment to the people who need it — and help those out there who are just making the worst decisions they can about drinking.