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'Drunken' Gene Found

Gene variation causes people to get drunk faster, may stave off alcoholism
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2010 3:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – A "drunken" gene—or, some might say, a "lightweight" gene—has been discovered by researchers probing the causes of alcoholism. Some 20% of people have a version of the gene CYP2E1 that causes them to get drunk much faster than others. The researchers say these people are less likely than others to become alcoholics because they are more sensitive to alcohol and can't consume large amounts of it, the Telegraph reports.

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The researchers hope the discovery will help provide new treatments for alcoholism. "We have found a gene that protects against alcoholism, and on top of that, has a very strong effect," noted the lead researcher. "But alcoholism is a very complex disease, and there are lots of complicated reasons why people drink. This may be just one of the reasons." (In other booze news, click here for an argument against drunk-driving laws.)

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