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Is alcoholism in your genes?

Saturday November 26, 2011 08:12:42 AM, IANS

London: Scientists have found that people may be genetically inclined to becoming alcoholics at birth.

Researchers studying the brainwaves of problem drinkers have discovered a gene which may be linked to drinking, a Daily Mail report said.

In a study, the researchers carried out a brain scan of people who are alcoholic, and discovered patterns common to those at risk of dependence.

It was found that children of problem drinkers had the same patterns of brain activity -- apparently at risk of becoming alcoholics.

The team from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute tested 1,064 people in the US with several generations of problem drinking in the family.

After identifying the echo of a brain wave, they discovered a strong link between drinking and the serotonin receptor gene, HTR7. Serotonin affects mood and sleep, and anti-depressent drugs are often regulated by it.

The researchers also found people were more likely to become alcoholics due to their ability to metabolize alcohol.

"Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that there's a genetic component to addiction," said geneticist Laura Almasy.

"We know that there are biological components to risk of addiction, some have to do with how you metabolize alcohol," she said.

"Some of them have to do with differences in people's brains that make them more or less susceptible to addiction. We think this difference in brainwave patterns between people at risk and people not at risk is an echo of the underlying biological difference that makes some people more susceptible than others," she added.

The findings are being published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics and have been printed in the Biomedical Research Institute's newsletter.





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