Heavy Drinker? It Could All Be In Your Genes.

A new study says increased or decreased drinking boils down to one specific gene.

By Michael MarksDecember 9, 2016 12:30 pm|

What’s the difference between drinking two beers and three beers? Probably not a lot if it’s just in one sitting. But over time, the cumulative effects of heavier drinking can have serious health consequences. But how many drinks you have may not be fully under your control.

David Mangelsdorf, with the University of Texas–Southwestern Medical Center says the difference between heavy drinking and light drinking comes down to a single gene. He just released a study on the topic.

“It’s part of the receptor complex that carries out the functions of hormones in the body,” he says. “One of them is a hormone called FGF21. And our studies have shown that FGF21 suppresses the desire to consume alcohol and this gene is involved in that signaling pathway. … And in fact, if you give FGF21 to a person as a drug, it suppresses the desire to drink alcohol.”

Mangelsdorf says that there are two versions of FGF21 – one that is associated with an increased desire to drink and one that decreases that desire.

“It suggests that from the perspective of evolution, there has been some selective advantage for those who have a desire to drink more alcohol,” he says. “I think what the study points to is a potentially therapeutic or pharmacologic means of controlling that.”

Post by Betsy Joles.