20/10/2010 06:46 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Do You Have The 'Tipsy' Gene?

When it comes to alcohol we all know someone who can drink until the cows come home and never seem to get drunk. And hands up if you have a friend who only has to have a sniff of booze to feel woozy?

Flickr, Darwin Bell

Now US scientists claim they've discovered a gene that determines how well you can hold your drink. Dubbed the 'tipsy' gene, it could explain why some people feel the effects of alcohol sooner than others. And thanks to their discovery, the researchers say treatments that could help protect against alcoholism could be on the horizon.

Writing in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, experts from the University of North Carolina claim between 10 - 20% of people have the CYP2E1 gene, which makes them react to alcohol more strongly and more quickly than others who don't have it.

Having studied more than 200 pairs of students, the researchers discovered the CYP2E1 gene, which is found on chromosome 10, provides instructions for a brain enzyme that helps break down alcohol alongside the liver.

And giving treatments that mimic the gene to those who don't have it could make them more sensitive to alcohol - so they get drunk by drinking less. It may sound like a recipe for a cheap night out, but the experts claim it could help prevent alcoholism in people who drink excessively.

Research strongly points to the idea that alcoholism runs in families, so the scientists could be right.

Is your family affected by alcoholism? If so, have you taken steps to prevent yourself becoming dependent on drink?

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