Genetics and Alcoholism

For years, people have searched for a link between alcoholism and genetics. It seemed to be intuitive that parents who drank a lot ended up with kids who drank a lot. However, was it really genetic? Was it that a child raised in a house full of drinking - and encouraged to drink young - would naturally then find drinking to be a normal part of life?

Research is of course ongoing. Here are some current results that I have found interesting.

Liver Functioning
One gene controls how well your liver works. Alcohol is processed in your liver. First, alcohol is turned into acetaldehyde. Your body dislikes acetaldehyde and gets pretty sick if it gets a build up of it. Next, the acetaldehyde is converted into acetate. If you had a body that wasn't great at doing the second conversion, then whenever you drank "too much", you would get sick. Therefore you'd be less likely to develop into an alcoholic because you'd get ill every time you drank too much. People of course fall along a spectrum of how well they convert acetaldehyde into acetate. Some do it very well, some do it very poorly. If someone was awful at doing this conversion, they'd only drink a little, because drinking more would make them feel sick. If someone was really great at this conversion, it wouldn't mean they would drink a lot! However it would mean if they DID voluntarily choose to drink a lot, they wouldn't get sick.

NOTE: I am not a doctor - please always talk to a doctor if you are not feeling well or have medical questions!

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