Heavy drinking can do more than mess with your health and undermine your relationships, a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research finds. In fact, it can alter your DNA.
Consistently overdoing it with alcohol can actually prompt dangerous — and long-lasting — genetic changes, according to cutting-edge research out of Rutgers University. And these changes actually worsen a drinker’s relationship with booze by causing he or she to crave it even more.
“This may help explain why alcoholism is such a powerful addiction,” the study’s senior author, Dipak K. Sarkar, said in statement Tuesday.
Researchers found that people who hit the bottle too hard (and too often) have the potential to disrupt the natural effectiveness of two specific genes: one that governs the body’s biological clock, and another that regulates stress. These mutations might explain why die-hard drinkers have so much trouble abstaining, and could contribute to the so-called vicious cycle of alcoholism.
The study’s authors are hoping that by identifying these biological indicators of troubled drinking, they can find new ways to treat alcohol addiction, and even “help prevent at-risk people from becoming addicted,” said Sarkar.
The World Health Organization qualifies alcoholism as a cause of disease, and warns that “harmful drinking” is to blame for 3 million deaths a year.
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