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Alcohol tolerance, evolution

  1. Dec 14, 2010 #1
    As different individuals and races are very different comparing this trait, alcohol tolerance has/is probably under heavy genetic selection. As there isn't much alcohol outside human society, i wonder whether people craved alcohol by accident already before it became abundant or did that trait also become more prominent after alcoholic inventions. If the first one is true then possibly people less affected by alcohol gave more children but the whole group became vulnerable compared to sober human populations. If the latter is true then it was beneficial being able to consume alcohol and doing a lot of it. As i understand light alcohol (5%) does in fact hydrate you? and is less prone to becoming poisonous in other ways? Also why alcohol tolerance became strongest in Europe, Mediterranean? More suitable climate and more extensive trade relationships?
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2010 #2
    Because everybody who drank the water instead of beer died of dysentry/cholera/typhoid/the dreaded lurg

    If tea had been around in europe then people might have drunk tea instead like most east-asians
  4. Dec 14, 2010 #3
    If I remember correctly in Medieval Europe alcohol was consumed quite frequently as it was safer to drink than the water in most places, whether this would be large enough effect to cause a selection pressure for Europeans to have a higher alcohol tolerance or not I don't know, I'll have a look for some papers on it. Obviously this tolerance would then be passed onto Americans, Australians etc. who were descended from European colonists.
  5. Dec 14, 2010 #4
    It was the only safe drink in europe from the Romans to the start of 20C

    Dying has quite a strong selection pressure - lookup Alcohol dehydrogenase
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