Humans may be evolving a genetic variant that would make them physically unable to consume large amounts of alcohol, new research suggests. If this gene is able to take hold on the global population, it could one day help reduce alcoholism and alcohol-abuse related health ailments.
…[O]ne gene variant, the ADH variant, was of particular interest due to its effect on our ability to tolerate alcohol.
When we drink too much alcohol our bodies struggle to keep up with metabolizing the chemical. This causes too much alcohol to enter our bloodstream which is what causes the unpleasant effects of drinking, such as nausea.
According to the study, the ADH variant affects our ability to metabolize alcohol. Also, the exact mechanism is not yet clear, individuals with this variant would not be able to break down alcohol as well. As a result, even the smallest amount of alcohol would cause extremely unwell feelings and New Scientist reported that it is unlikely these individuals would be able to physically consume enough alcohol for them to develop alcoholism.
Thus this genetic variant may act as a sort of protection against this alcoholism. At the moment, the variant is seen sporadically throughout populations and has only been detected in East Asian and West African populations. It hasn’t made any significant difference to human health and lifestyles, at least not yet.
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