Scientists have found there’s a gene that leads to alcoholism, a trait which runs in certain societies, such as the Irish and Native Americans, more than in others. Now they have found ANOTHER gene that protects against it (as well as a post-New Year’s hangover cure). This gene variant is associated with a person’s response to alcohol. For the 10 to 20% of people who have this gene, those first few drinks leave them feeling more inebriated than the rest of us, who have a different version of the gene, so they stop while other people keep going, and previous studies show that people who react strongly to alcohol are less likely to become alcoholics later in life. Those of us without the protective gene are lucky that there really is such a thing as hands on healing (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show).

Meanwhile, if your teenager has been driving drunk, he’s much more likely to be able to walk a straight line than you are. Researchers have known for years that teens are less sensitive than adults to the motor-impairing effects of alcohol, but they do not know exactly what is happening in the brain that causes teens to be less sensitive than adults. But now, neuropsychologists have found the particular cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the age-dependent effect of alcohol in teens that may cause the reduced motor impairment.

NEXT New Year’s Eve, don’t drink and drive (don’t drink and walk either!), but if you do drink champagne, pour it right, so it doesn’t lose its fizz. Scientists in France (where they ought to know) report that pouring bubbly in an angled, down-the-side way (the way most people pour beer into a glass) is best for preserving its taste and fizz. And if you drink too much of it, you should know that exercise and B vitamins can help cure a hangover, but coffee WON’T help. And forget "hair of the dog," the idea that having a drink can relieve a hangover. It will only make you feel worse.

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