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Have a Cocktail Without Harming Your Health
June 26, 2007 23:19

Say NO to beer

On the one hand, alcohol-containing drinks damage cardio-vascular system, but on the other – a glass of red wine is ambrosia for heart. Should people drink alcohol, or not, and what to do when so many tasty drinks surround you?

Medics from Tomsk Science-and-Research Institute of Medical Genetics have found that some genes, responsible for ethanol utilization, affect blood pressure and lipid metabolism, thus increasing chances of coronary atherosclerosis appearing in Western Siberia ihnabitants. However, this relationship doesn’t mean that genes’ effect on cardio-vascular system has direct relations with ethanol metabolism.


For many years medic professionals considered drink abuse to cause various cardiovascular diseases. However, recent research result in data, showing opposite effect of moderate drinking, like preventing said diseases, especially coronary heart disease. In fact, ethanol raises blood pressure, concentration of fatty acids and urea in blood, but at the same time it lowers cholesterol content, eliminates blood proteins’ ability to coagulate and clot formation. Ethanol’s effect depends on its concentration in blood – about 90% of alcohol are converted inside liver by means of several enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, cytochrome P450 of E21 class and others.

Variations in gene sequences, coding said enzymes, or genetic polymorphism in other words, is that key factor, which influences rate of ethanol degradation and diseases, caused by drinking too much alcohol, as well as genetic disposition to cardio-vascular diseases. Male Japanese, for example, have several certain mutations in genes, coding alcohol dehydrogenase, which allow oxidizing ethanol 100-200 times faster than Europeans do. That is why polymorphism of genes, participating in ethanol degradation, is expected to affect cardiovascular system.


Geneticists from Tomsk have examined a group of patients with “ischemic heart disease and coronary atherosclerosis” diagnosis, having almost healthy Tomsk dwellers as a control. All experiment participants allowed analyzing their cardiovascular system and polymorphism of two genes of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH1B and ADH7) and cytochrome YP21. Scientists successfully discovered mutant variants of said genes, which affect blood pressure, concentration of fatty acids and lipoproteins. Same genes determine rate of ethanol degradation, however researchers consider effect of said genes’ polymorphism on lipid methabolism and blood pressure not to be linked with ethanol degradation function. Possible explanation is that enzymes, which functions are determined by mentioned genes, are responsible for several operations. However, scientists still hope that these genes can be used as alcohol addiction markers.

Nevertheless, the question about mutations, which allow drinking more alcohol without any hazardous consequences, is still open, however scientists recommend abstinence while waiting for scientifically grounded result of their study.

    Russian Science News
Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian scientists Russian science health Tomsk  

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