Heavy Drinking may Change DNA, Leading to Increased Craving for Alcohol

Posted on February 8, 2019

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According to Rutgers-led study in the journal Alcoholism, heavy and binge drinking may alter a long-lasting genetic change, causing an even greater craving for alcohol. The alteration of the genes may be a plausible reason why alcoholism is a powerful addiction and may one day serve as new ways to treat alcoholism or help prevent at-risk people from becoming addicted.

World Health Organization reported that in 2016, more than 3 million people died from excess usage of alcohol. That is approximately 5 percent of all global deaths. More than three-quarters of alcohol-caused deaths were among men and the harmful use of alcohol also contributed to 5.1 percent of the worldwide toll of diseases and injuries.

Researchers at Rutgers and Yale University School of Medicine discovered two genes implicated in the control of drinking behavior: PER2, which affects the body’s biological clock, and POMC, which regulates our stress-response system. The researchers compared between groups of moderate, binge and heavy drinkers, and they found that the two genes had changed in the binge and heavy drinkers through an alcohol-influenced gene modification process called methylation. Both the binge and heavy drinkers also displayed lower in gene expression, as well as the rate at which these genes create proteins. These changes increased with greater alcohol intake.

In an experiment, the participants in all 3 groups were asked to view stress-related, neutral or alcohol-related images. They also were shown containers of beer and subsequently tasted beer, and the researchers evaluated their motivation to drink. The result has shown that alcohol-fueled changes in the genes of binge and heavy drinkers were associated with a greater desire for alcohol. These findings may serve to help researchers discover measurable indicators such as proteins or modified genes which potentially could predict an individual’s risk for binge or heavy drinking.


Source material from ScienceDaily

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