New Study Might Explain Why Some People Are Obnoxious Drunks

It might be the result of a gene mutation.

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We all know someone who "can't hold their liquor:" That unfortunate individual who, despite their best efforts, just can't imbibe without becoming an imbecile. 

Well, as it turns out, there might be a genetic link to their behavior, according to new research published in the journal Translational Psychiatry

Researchers at the University of Helsinki sought to determine why certain drinkers become drunk — excessively, obnoxiously so — after a relatively small amount of alcohol, and found that it comes down to a gene in the serotonin 2B receptor. Although scientists don't actually know much about the functioning of this receptor, they think it's linked to impulsive behavior, especially as it occurs in people with mental health issues.

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According to lead study researcher Roope Tikkanen, PhD, a mutation in this receptor can make someone more prone to impulsive behavior in general, but especially when drunk.

"The results... indicate that persons with this mutation are more impulsive by nature even when sober, and they are more likely to struggle with self-control or mood disorders," Dr. Tikkanen said in a press release.

Roughly 2 percent of the Finnish population has this mutation, according to Tikkanen, which means it affects more than 100,000 people in Finland. Why Finland? The country's gene pool is relatively homogenous thanks to its isolation — tucked between Sweden and Russia — so it's easier for researchers to pinpoint the genetic mutation.

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