London – They say that opposites attract. But when it comes to alcohol, many of us seem to end up with a partner who shares our drinking habits. Now scientists think they may have discovered why – and it’s down to our genes. Some people have a mutation in their DNA that makes them enjoy alcohol. And if you have it, your partner is more likely to have it too.
This could help to explain why drinkers tend to get together with other drinkers and couples often seem to drink similar amounts.
Researchers at Bristol University Medical School set out to examine the effect of drinking behavior on how we select a partner. They looked at the genes of 47 549 couples whose DNA has been sequenced on the UK Biobank database.
The researchers found that how much someone drinks partly depends on whether they have variation rs12229984 in a gene called ADH1B.
And if one-half of a couple of drinks, it greatly increases the chances that the other will too. The researchers also looked at whether couples are likely to develop similar drinking behavior over time, and did not find any evidence for this.
Dr Laurence Howe and his colleagues wrote: “Our findings suggest that alcohol behaviour directly influences mate selection.”
They said the findings are significant to society because as drinkers get together with other drinkers, the gene mutation will become more widespread in the population. This means that the number of drinkers could rise over time
There is bad news for those who have the genetic mutation. They tend to spend fewer years in education.
It is also known to be more widespread in Europeans than in people from other continents. The researchers called for more research in other parts of the world to give a fuller picture.
Alcoholism has already been found to have a large genetic component. The researchers said whether or not someone suffers from it is as much as 50 percent down to genes.
Previously, scientists have found that couples are often more genetically similar than other people as a whole. Height, education, blood pressure, and several chronic diseases have been found to correlate in each half of a couple. All of these are thought to have a genetic component.
25 NOVEMBER 2019, 11:54AM