If you don't have a genetic tendency toward alcoholism, it may be bad for your health.

Alcoholism, as we know, occurs for various reasons – due to a person’s environment, upbringing, social status, etc. Genetics is an important factor in all this. Some people have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, while others, on the contrary, have genes that protect them from excessive drinking. At first glance, if a person has such genes, we can say that he is lucky, since he will not suffer from alcoholism. But as a recent study shows, the reality is not so simple. The fact is that these same genes are associated with other serious diseases.

If you don't have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, it could be bad for your health. Lack of «genetic protection» against alcoholism is not always good. Photo.

How genes protect people from alcoholism

Scientists previously found that certain variants in the genetic code, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, protect against heavy drinking. For such people, after drinking alcohol, a hangover begins almost instantly – nausea, headache, etc.

The reason is that due to the characteristics of the genes, namely the minor allelic variant of the SNP, the body very quickly processes ethanol into acetaldehyde, that is, a toxin that causes poor health during a hangover. Accordingly, such characteristics of the body do not allow a person to consume large quantities of alcoholic beverages, since instead of pleasure, alcohol only brings poor health. In addition, these same genes prevent the development of alcoholism.

Why is it bad to have “genetic protection” from alcoholism

An international team of scientists conducted a large-scale study in which they analyzed more than 3 million DNA records of various people, Europeans and Latin Americans. At the same time, scientists paid attention to the minor allelic variant of SNP and the health status of these people. To discover patterns between genes and health, scientists used more than 1,000 indicators, such as sleep, immunity, mental health, substance use, etc.

As a result, the researchers found a mixed picture. On the one hand, people with such genes suffer less from chronic fatigue and in general their health is better, which is not surprising. Alcohol is known to destroy the liver and cause the development of a variety of other diseases, including cancer. But on the other hand, people “genetically protected” from alcoholism turned out to be predisposed to many serious diseases.

In particular, scientists have found that such people are more likely to suffer from thyroid disease, malaria, lung and skin cancer, and heart disease. In addition, the study showed that such people are more likely to have mental health problems. And the strangest thing is that people with a minor allelic SNP variant are more susceptible to tobacco addiction. Researchers report this in the journal eBioMedicine.

Why “anti-alcohol” genes are harmful to health

In this study, scientists only discovered a relationship between a minor allelic SNP variant and some diseases. However, the reason for this or even cause-and-effect relationships cannot yet be identified. For example, it can be assumed that due to a predisposition to smoking, such people are more likely to suffer from lung cancer.

It is possible that health problems are associated with the characteristics of the metabolism of alcohol or the characteristics of its consumption. But for now these are just assumptions. The most important thing, according to the researchers, is that such a relationship has been identified. Now scientists will be able to study this issue in more detail and ultimately get answers to all the questions raised.

Scientists' discovery may help in treating a number of diseases, including alcohol dependence

The results obtained will have practical significance. Scientists suggest that they can provide experts with additional information for choosing drugs and forms of therapy for certain diseases to which people with a minor allelic SNP variant are predisposed. In addition, the data obtained can be used to treat alcoholism.

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Finally, let us recall that people began to drink alcohol at least 5,000 years ago. This craving for alcohol, especially among those who are not “genetically protected,” has a scientific explanation, which we described in detail earlier.