Gene May Make Some Drinkers More Prone to Violence
December 19, 2008
New research from Helsinki University Central suggests that individuals with a particular gene may be more likely to become violent when consuming alcohol, the Telegraph reported Dec. 16.
Researchers studied alcoholic male offenders with known histories of violence and found that those born with highly active versions of the MAOA gene were at increased risk of impulsive violence when drinking. The scientists also found that the impact appears to diminish with age.
The MAOA gene produces an enzyme that breaks down brain chemicals related to moods, and high levels of the enzyme can be dangerous when alcohol is present in the system, according the researchers.
“People react quite differently to acute alcohol exposure. Most individuals become relaxed and talkative, while some — particularly people who are introverted while sober — become expansively extroverted and aggressive,” said study author Roope Tikkanen. He suggested that addiction rehabilitation centers should focus on “younger heavy-drinking, high-activity MAOA individuals” to increase program efficacy.
The findings were published online Dec. 16, 2008 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.