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DNA variant may make heavy boozing a team sport

Carriers imbibed more around hard-drinking partners

12:45pm, July 16, 2010

Here’s some not-so-sobering news for party people, barhoppers and clubgoers. Individuals who inherit a particular gene variant that tweaks the brain’s reward system are especially likely to drink a lot of alcohol in the company of heavy-boozing peers.

That’s the preliminary indication of a new study directed by psychology graduate student Helle Larsen of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Adults carrying at least one copy of a long version of the dopamine D4 receptor gene, dubbed DRD4, imbibed substantially more alcohol around a heavy-drinking peer than did others who lacked that gene variant, Larsen’s group reports in a paper published online July 7 in Psychological Science.

“Carriers of the long gene may be more attuned to, and influenced by, another person’s heavy drinking than noncarriers are,” Larsen says.

Her study provides the first evidence that a gene influences human alcohol u

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