In Brief

Reckless drunks 'share genetic mutation'

Researchers find that 2.2% of Finns carry a mutated gene that means they can't 'hold their drink'

People who behave recklessly when drunk could now put the blame on their genetic inheritance, as new research from Finland has found that some people are born more likely to embarrass themselves than others.

The study could help explain students who wear traffic cones as hats, says the Daily Mail, but the findings will have serious results too, and could even lead to the development of new drugs.

A genetic mutation studied by Dr Roope Tikkanen and colleagues at the University of Helsinki makes carriers prone to rash behaviour even when sober – but the disinhibiting effects of alcohol intensify the character streak.

Tikkanen said: "The results also 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."

Carriers may seem to get drunk more quickly, or on less alcohol, than people who do not share the mutation, says the Mail.

"They get into verbal arguments and fights, have unplanned sex, are arrested more often than the healthy controls," said Tikkanen.

The mutation is carried in the gene of the serotonin 2B inhibitor, a protein that helps control the brain. Researchers believe the mutation is present in 2.2 per cent of the Finnish population, meaning some 100,000 Finns carry it.

According to the Daily Telegraph, this means that "hundreds, if not thousands of people in Britain with Finnish ancestry are likely to find themselves genetically bad drunks".

Little is known about the function of the serotonin 2B inhibitor, says the Telegraph, but it is linked to the impulsivity present in a number of mental health problems.

It may be possible to develop drugs to help carriers of the mutated gene control their behaviour. Tikkanen said: "These persons could benefit more from medication than people without the mutation.  

"However, there are only a couple [of] approved medicines available which have a partial affinity for this receptor. This gives an opportunity [to] develop new, more receptor-specific, medicines."

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