Man at His Best

The Real Reason Some People Are Lightweights While Others Can Handle Their Booze

Clue: it has nothing to do with being a 'big bloke' or not.

BY Olivia Ovenden | Sep 2, 2016 | Food & Drink

Ever found yourself four pints deep barely able to stand while your mates chug happily on getting in never-ending rounds? 

Well science might actually have an answer for why some people are lightweights whilst others shrug off a litre of spirits, and it is down to a receptor in our brain.

Washington State University have released research that found for lightweights, a part of our brain (a receptor called GABAA) goes into overdrive when fed even a tiny bit of alcohol. Once the GABAA has reacted with ethanol it acts like a "traffic cop for electrical signals," meaning it suppresses brain cells from firing and messes with our social inhibitions and balance. 

For the tanks that can handle their booze well, the same receptor takes a long time to react and doesn't lead to the same instant effects like swaying, slurred speech and dizziness. 

The researchers discovered this by breeding mice that were sensitive to alcohol and comparing their reactions to alcohol with normal mice.

"The D2 mouse [alcohol sensitive] is a cheap drunk. After the equivalent of one or two drinks, it has trouble staying on a rotating cylinder. The B6 mouse [not alcohol sensitive], however, will stay on a rotating cylinder even after drinking three times as much alcohol, which is beyond the drunk driving limit," said David Rossi, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Washington State.

"It mirrors the human situation," added Rossi. "If you're sensitive to the motor-impairing effects of alcohol, you don't tend to drink much. You're inhibiting the circuit that executes normal motor function. If you're not sensitive, you drink more."

The study concluded that those less sensitive to alcohol were more prone to binge drinking or alcoholism, so not being able to handle a whisky might be good news after all. 

From: Esquire UK.

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