Researchers using real-time polymerase chain reaction, measured serum DNA among:
- 59 participants who abused alcohol (22 percent consumed four or more alcoholic drinks per day)
- 197 participants with variable alcohol consumption habits (4 percent consumed four or more alcoholic drinks per day)
Those who consumed heavy amounts of alcohol had much shorter telomeres, about half the length of non-abusers (0.41 vs. 0.79 relative units). That is pretty long when you consider that this is all on a microscopic level and it makes you wonder what alcohol really does to the human body. Interestingly, those carriers of the variant genotype ADH1B were found to be more likely to abuse alcohol and congruently had shorter telomere length, according to Baccarelli. These facts bring to light the idea that one day we will be able to identify with accuracy people who carry the gene of alcoholism.
"All the cells in our body have a biological clock in telomeres," noted Baccarelli, who is head of the Center of Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology, Ca' Granda Hospital Foundation, University of Milan, Italy.