Taste genes could affect alcohol use

Genetics may affect how a person tastes and uses alcohol, according to a new study.

Scientists at Penn State University recruited 93 adults and analyzed their genetic make-up. They then asked the volunteers to taste and rate various samples of alcohol.

The researchers were able to identify two specific genetic variations--known as TAS2R13 and RAS2R38--that seemed to affect the study's participants' perceptions about the taste of the alcohol. Specifically, the genetic variants affected how bitter a person perceived the alcohol to be. The researchers also found that the more bitter a person perceived the alcohol to be, the less likely they were to drink it, and vice-versa.

The study's findings, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, suggest that people with variants of the bitterness gene may drink as much as 50 percent less than those without the genetic variant. In other words, people may be predisposed--or not--to liking alcohol.

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Sourced from: Reuters, Genes influence taste, and possibly use, of alcohol