Do you drunkenly pride yourself on how much alcohol you can consume without passing out while your friends lay drooling on the floor? Well, researchers have discovered that alcohol tolerance might have nothing to do with how manly you are and could be more closely related to genes in the human body.
The University of North Carolina researchers believe they have discovered a "tipsy" gene that explains why some people feel drunk quicker than others. They hypothesize that 10% to 20% of people have a variation of the gene that may offer some protection against alcoholism.
Yes, protection that comes in the form of a quicker buzz. It turns out; people who get drunk faster than others are less likely to become dependent, this is what has been shown in the studies.
Now I know what some people are probably thinking.
Some daring, inventive boozehound could take this discovery and use it to find a whole method of getting sauced up. Well, the University of North Carolina said the study is designed to help fight addiction, not create a genetically efficient way for a cheap night out.
The same researchers also say that people could be given the gene, CYP2E1 in a drug form to make them more sensitive to alcohol. Not to get them drunk more quickly, but to put them off drinking to the point of ridiculousness.
The lead researcher on the project Professor Kirk Wilhelmsen said to the BBC "Obviously we are a long way off having a treatment, but the gene we have found tells us a lot about how alcohol affects the brain."
The majority of the alcohol people chug is broken down in the liver, but some is metabolized in the brain by an enzyme which the CYP2E1 gene dispenses coded instructions for.
People that have the "tipsy" version of CYP2E1 in their genetic makeup break down alcohol more easily. This explains why they feel the effects of alcohol much faster than others.
Yes it sounds like these guys have potentially figured out a revolutionary way to use the science of genes to get people drunk. This discovery came while they were merely trying to gain better understanding of how alcoholism works on the brain.
According to researchers the discovery of a gene that determines alcohol tolerance does not necessarily mean they have discovered the reason why people like to get drunk too much. It just means that they may have pinpointed one of the many factors that lead to alcohol abuse.
Not all of the things that cause people to take up a life of getting hammered and rejected by their families are genetic. Don Shenker, of the charity Alcohol Concern, told the BBC that, in most cases, alcohol abuse stemmed from social problems, with alcohol used as a prop.
It appears that alcoholism is probably caused by a combination of things: having a crappy life and having genes that make it possible for some people to drink Bukowski-like amounts of alcohol.
I hope for a world where they give people the "tipsy" gene in pill form to get people crazy drunk for a reality show to determine who really is the "King of the Reality Show Trash Barfighters".