Alcohol Dependency in Europe goes up with increased ANE admixture.


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Alcohol (ethanol) is a very potent mind altering substance, and has very addictive properties.
Therefore, the question is, why some populations cope well with alcohol, which is a normal part of their culture, when others have rampant problem with alcoholism and considers alcohol as biggest evil?

I think this extremely various effect of alcohol on populations have roots in history of alcohol invention, long use by some demographics, therefore acquiring genetic predispositions, or lack of them.

"The gift of farmers". Oldest archeological finds point to ancient farming communities as inventors of alcoholic beverages like wine or beer.
Oldest european beer 4,400BC in Spain
Wine making from 4,500 in Macedonia
Some finds date even further back in Near East and China in farming communities. Also farmers like Aztecs in America invented alcohol.

I'm not aware of any archeological finds of alcoholic drinks among hunter-gatherers. It is also true to modern HG like Prairie Indians or Australian Aborigines. They didn't have history of alcoholic beverages, didn't build immunity against alcohol toxicity, and they are also most affected of all modern populations on Earth having unparalleled problem with alcohol dependency.

Finally I was able to trace and excellent paper regarding alcoholism and other effects of alcohol dependency: Reports/CAMH_Alcohol_Report_Europe_2012.pdf

I made a quick map of alcohol dependency in Europe based on tables from this paper (Web Appendix 12: Prevalence of Alcohol Dependence, by Country ). The lightest shade marks the least dependent and goes up by factor of 3% a shade. There is data missing from Yugoslavia, Albania, Ukraine and Belarus but regardless, the trend is already visible. Alcoholism climbs from Southwest to Northeast.

Alcohol Dependency.jpg

It correlates with cline of ANE admixture. Darker colour denotes more ANE.

ANE map.jpg

I will claim that from all 3 admixtures (EEF, WHG and ANE) ANE people were acquainted with alcohol very late and as last. ANE didn't build immunity yet to the same level as other admixtures, possibly as late comer to Europe.

Interesting how Hungary stands out in both maps.
Further more, if ANE in Europe have nomadic origin from Asian Steppe area, we can argue that most, if not all, nomads on Earth are susceptible to alcoholism too. It might explain prohibition of alcohol in Muslim countries of Middle East. Before Muslim religion expansion all Middle East, having long farming traditions, was accustomed to drinking alcohol. When Nomadic Desert Arabs expended and conquered the area they've became acquainted with alcohol. Not being immune to its toxicity alcohol started making a grave impact on their population. Very concerned Mohamed declared alcoholic beverages sinful and banned the substance. Were the Arab Nomads immune to alcohol, like the rest of Near East population, there wouldn't have been any social concern of ruling elite at that time, therefore no restrictions of its use.
Yes, there's definitely a ANE=drunk trend. And there are historical records indicating that Turkish folk from Central Asia had problems with alcohol before islam resulted in restrictions in its use, which would support your theory about Desert Arabs. But I wonder to what extent alcohol abuse is a genetic thing and to what extent it's a cultural thing (societies that are relatively new to alcohol taking a long time to create civilized drinking customs, maybe).

To go slightly off-topic, it should be interesting if the DNA results are eventually publicized for that Spanish beer find - it says that the remains were in good condition, so perhaps they'll get Y DNA as well as mtDNA. Maybe someone should start a new thread with another poll.
American Indians have to this day big problems with alcohol. 12% of their deaths are alcohol related.

As you know, there are a lot of cultural factors at work with Native people and destructive behaviours; loss of their culture and languages, abuses that occurred in the residential schools and all that. But I think there must be a genetic factor. Some races seem to react to their difficulty in digesting alcohol by not drinking or not drinking much, but others seem to have an allergy/addiction response that leads to really damaging alcohol abuse. And then there are the folks who are mostly descended from longtime farmers and they seem to handle alcohol better. But it's difficult to be certain we understand which reactions are genetic and which are cultural when it comes to how different groups handle alcohol. I think it's usually a mixture of nature and nurture in most cases.
The alcohol dependence and ANE admix map are actaully surprising and they do seem to make the correlation you suggest.

Research with mice have shown that a mutation in the gene Gabrb1 [ and associated receptors ] affects the preference for, and excessive drinking of, alcohol.
Here is a link for any readers who may not have yet seen it:

If this can be shown to also apply to humans, a study for this mutation in alcoholics with a family history of high alcohol use, from those darker coloured areas, might show some interesting results?

However, there are also environmental reasons that contribute to the development of alcohol addiction, as Aberdeen has rightly mentioned.
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The study found that normal mice drink little or no alcohol when offered a free choice between a bottle of water and a bottle of diluted alcohol.
However, mice with a mutation in the gene Gabrb1 overwhelmingly preferred drinking alcohol over water, choosing to consume almost 85 per cent of their daily fluid as drinks containing alcohol.

Wow, I didn't expect this, to find actual "alcoholic" gene, or one gene so strongly responsible. 85% preference of alcohol over water, from almost 0!
I was thinking more along the lines that with long history of alcohol consumption people will develop "anti-alcoholic" mutations. We actually had to reverse this thinking to make mice drink.
Perhaps this gene was in the right mutation for mice (non-alcoholic) to protect them from toxic alcohol consumption when eating rotten/fermented fruit. People don't eat rotten food therefore this protective mutation wasn't needed. It might show more in farmers from south europe. But that's rather too speculative on my part.

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