Binge Drinking and the DNA 'Hangover'

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Binge drinking could become a vicious cycle, due to long-term genetic changes that increase the craving for alcohol. That’s according to a study conducted at Rutgers University and Yale University School of Medicine and published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The researchers focused on two genes known to affect drinking behavior:

  • PER2, which influences the body's biological clock
  • POMC, which regulates stress response

They compared groups of moderate, binge, and heavy drinkers, and discovered that genes had changed through an alcohol-influenced process in the binge and heavy drinkers. These two groups also showed reduced gene expression — that is, a lower rate of protein creation. Next, the researchers:

  • showed study participants stress-related, alcohol-related, or neutral images
  • showed them containers of beer
  • allowed them to taste beer

Then, they evaluated the study participants' motivation to drink.

The researchers found that genetic changes in the binge and heavy drinkers were associated with a stronger desire for alcohol. The study, which provides more information about why alcoholism is such a powerful addiction, could one day lead to better treatment and prevention methods, they say.

Sourced from: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research