Binge drinking is when you drink a series of alcoholic beverages in a short period of time. A new study has shown that binge drinking can possibly change your DNA to make you crave more and more alcohol. By understanding the results that binge drinking can have on your DNA, this will help scientists find more effective ways to treat alcoholism and prevent those at risk of developing it.

Why is Binge Drinking a Big Problem?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six American adults drink seven alcoholic beverages in a binge, four times a month. Binge drinking can lead to unintentional injuries and a higher risk of STDs from memory and learning problems. Drinking games like Beer Pong or Never Have I Ever encourage binge drinking without thinking about the chances of developing alcoholism as well as the physical and mental consequences that result. Binge drinking also cost the United States $249 billion in 2010 with drops in workplace activity and rising healthcare bills. Determining if alcohol cravings come from our DNA can help figure out a course of treatment. 

What Happened During the Study?

Rutgers University-New Brunswick did a study where they studied the blood samples of nonsmoking moderate drinkers, non-binge drinkers, and heavy social drinkers part of a three-day experiment. Each participant was exposed to a different visual cue a day like one neutral image, one related to alcohol, and another that is stress-related. After, the participants were shown beer cans and given a taste test to record each person’s motivation to drink alcohol. Dipak K. Sarkar, the leader of the study, wanted to look for the genes POMC and PER2 which are tied to drinking behavior. PER2 affects the body’s biological clock and POMC regulates your stress response.

What Does This Mean For the Future?

Through DNA methylation, a gene modification process, it was discovered that there was a change in these two genes in heavy and binge drinking participants. This research is still in the early process, but the findings were encouraging for the future. Researchers still want to figure out if the gene methylation is extended or long-lasting. They also want to figure out if these changes can be reversed and brought back to normal. With a study like this, more awareness can be made about the dangers of binge drinking and more measures can be done to prevent it.

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