Brain and Body

“Aggressive Drunk” Gene May Protect Carriers From Obesity and Diabetes

August 11, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Empty shot glasses
Photo credit: Antonio Morales García/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

According to a study on Finnish men. 

In previous research, scientists from the University of Helsinki demonstrated that a specific mutation in a serotonin 2B receptor gene can render carriers prone to impulsive behavior, particularly while intoxicated.

In fact, they identified this mutation in over 100,000 Finnish people, finding that these individuals were also more likely to struggle with self-control or mood disorders.

Now, building on this research, they’ve found that this mutation may have another interesting effect on its carriers — it may protect them from the risks associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers rounded up 98 Finnish men aged 25 to 30, and all study participants had been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. To ensure that the research findings weren’t skewed, the researchers used urine tests to verify that the participants hadn’t used antidepressants or antipsychotics within the two weeks preceding the study.

DON'T MISS: 8 Things That Happen in Your Brain and Body While You’re Drunk

Focusing on their BMI, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity, the team found that the carriers of the genetic mutation had a lower BMI and higher insulin sensitivity compared to those without the mutation.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that the usual tendency for low testosterone levels to render individuals more prone to metabolic disorders was reversed — the men with the genetic mutation had increased insulin sensitivity.

"It is fascinating to think that this receptor mutation which has been passed through the chain of evolution would impact both the brain as impulsive behaviour and energy metabolism," study lead Dr. Roope Tikkanen, a psychiatrist from the University of Helsinki, said in a press release.

The researchers hypothesize that this mutation may have been passed down as a beneficial tool after the Ice Age, since it would have helped men metabolize energy more efficiently and survive with lower calorie intake in the cool, nutrition-poor environment.

“Simultaneously, the aggression associated with high levels of testosterone may have helped them compete for food,” Tikkanen explains.

According to the researchers, in our modern society, the carriers of the mutation may be protected from metabolic illnesses associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes.

"One would assume that the effect would be particularly pronounced in women, who naturally have lower levels of testosterone than men," Tikkanen concludes.

The work is published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Read next: Researchers May Have Discovered a World-First New Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Hot Topics

Facebook comments