'Binge-drinking gene' found

A newly discovered addiction gene could be fuelling teenage binge-drinking, research suggests. The mutant version of the RASGRF2 gene makes the brain more sensitive to habit-forming rewards such as alcohol, studies have shown.

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Teen drinking cases soar

  • Around six in 10 young people aged 11 to 15 in England consume alcohol, a proportion that has remained relatively stable for 20 years.
  • However, rates of teenage binge drinking have soared in recent years.
  • Teenagers drank an average of six units of alcohol per week in 1994 and 13 units in 2007.
  • A unit of alcohol is roughly equivalent to half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.
  • Each year some 5,000 teenagers in the UK are admitted to hospital for alcohol-related reasons.
  • Teenage alcohol abuse is linked to poor brain development, future health problems, and risk taking and antisocial behaviour, the scientists pointed out.

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