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Scientists Discover Gene Responsible for Binge Drinking

Scientists Discover Gene Responsible for Binge Drinking
Matt Cardy, Getty Images

We’ve always thought that binge drinking was just part of being a dumb teenager, but scientists say they’ve recently discovered a gene which could account for the risky behavior.

Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London say a mutant version of the RASGRF2 gene (whatever that is) makes the brain more sensitive to addictive substances such as alcohol. In fact, scientists noted that a group of 16-year-old boys with the gene drank more frequently than those without.

“People seek out situations which fulfill their sense of reward and make them happy, so if your brain is wired to find alcohol rewarding, you will seek it out,” said lead scientist Gunter Schumann.

Apparently, the gene plays a role in how alcohol triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. So, if a person has this specific variation of the gene, they get a stronger sense of reward from booze than other people do. Lucky!

Schumann says identifying the gene is an important step in “in designing prevention and treatment interventions for alcohol addiction.” But, honestly, it sorta sounds like a buzz kill to us.

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