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Friends, not genes, affect teen drinking

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A study published in the journal Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, has found that even teens who have a genetic protection against abusing alcohol are likely to drink too much in social situations.

The study looked at teens with a certain biomarker, known as ADH1B, which increases the likelihood of unpleasant side affects while drinking. Because people with this genetic variation are more likely to experience headaches, nausea and vomiting, they are less likely to drink too much.

However, that affect was negated when teens were out with their partying peers.

"When in a high-risk environment -- that is, if they reported that 'most or all' of their best friends drank alcohol -- the gene's protective effect essentially disappeared," Emily Olfson, an MD/PhD student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and lead author of the study.

 

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