According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 38 million Americans drink too much. Binge drinkers, people who report high alcohol use and pregnant women are included in this number. In the wake of this alarming number the CDC began looking into why this is and how to combat the problem of over drinking.
One important question that came up prior to the research was the popular theory that children of alcoholics are more likely to become heavy drinkers themselves. According the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), children who come from an alcoholic parent are four times more likely to have the same types of alcohol problems.
The study, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, looked into this hypothesis and found interesting results. Over a five week period, male mice were given alcohol, elevating their BAC to a little more than the legal limit. They were then paired with female mice that had not been exposed to alcohol. After the mice mated the offspring were tested for their susceptibility to alcohol.
Researchers found that the male offspring of the mice did not seek out alcohol; in fact they chose water over alcohol. However, when alcohol was consumed by the offspring they were more likely to feel the effects by essentially increasing the sensitivity to alcohol. This would indicate that consumption of alcohol could possibly alter the genes passed down to male offspring. Curiously, daughters were not affected.
The study is still being researched and will next focus on female offspring and why they were not affected. So far the important point the study illustrates is that people need to be cautions when consuming alcohol, especially if they exhibit signs of abuse. The CDC offers some advice to prevent alcohol abuse. They state that a person should not begin to drink or increase the amount that they drink because they heard of some health benefits to consuming alcohol.
What this study also suggests is that there are clearly genetic influences that pass along from alcoholics, those along are certainly not the deciding factors on who becomes an alcoholic. Social and environmental factors are often much more of an indicator of future alcoholic behavior.
If you have a loved one in need of an alcohol intervention, contact us today for more information on effective practices and treatments.