Study: Our DNA Influences How Much We Drink

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“Alcohol consumption is a heritable complex trait,” according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior. In other words, how much we drink is in our genes.

The paper reports the results of a study undertaken by an international team led by researchers from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health. The team analyzed data from some 480,842 people of European ancestry, mostly aged between 40 and 69, and were able to identify 46 new genetic markers linked to how much people drink.

The researchers found that 7% of the variation in a person’s total alcohol consumption could be affected by his or her genes. Those with the lowest alcohol-related genetic risk imbibed about a third less of a standard-size drink per day than those with the highest.

The paper also noted that one genetic variant was linked to the putamen, a large structure in the brain that is involved in the movement of the limbs and other body parts. The putamen in turn is also linked to the intake of alcohol.

One particularly unsettling finding of the study is the fact that some genetic pathways are shared between alcohol consumption and brain networks associated with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. According to Imperial College’s professor Paul Elliott, lead author of the study, the team’s research “suggests there may be some joint genetic mechanism that leads a person to drink more, as well as increase their risk of schizophrenia.”

Excessive drinking can also lead to depression, anxiety, and social problems. People in some cities drink a lot more than others — these are the drunkest cities in America.

Elliott also noted that since his team’s research was based on those of European descent, it was important to investigate how genes might interact with alcohol in those with other ethnic backgrounds. Of course, it has been established that, no matter where you come from, the safest level of drinking is none at all.

For health reasons, it’s important for men to understand the content of the alcohol they consume. Men tend to put alcohol in various categories and don’t include beer as alcohol. Even though beer might not have the alcohol content of other liquors, it still contains alcohol, which should be consumed in moderate quantities. Here are 50 health tips every man should know.

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