Analysis of protein changes in the blood could be used to distinguish heavy drinkers from light and moderate alcohol consumption, ANI reported March 24.
Researchers working with lab primates identified 17 proteins that changed in the presence of alcohol and used them to classify individuals as non-drinkers, light drinkers (up to two drinks daily) and heavy drinkers (six or more drinks daily).
“We observed that the levels of some proteins increased or decreased with as little as one or two drinks a day. These same changes occurred with heavier levels of drinking,” said researcher Willard M. Freeman of the Penn State College of Medicine. “We also found other proteins that responded only to heavy levels of drinking. Combined, these proteins allow us to classify subjects into non-drinking, alcohol-using, and alcohol-abusing groups.”
Added Freeman: “Unlike routine testing for illicit drugs, you can't just look for a trace of alcohol because many people enjoy a drink in a responsible manner and alcohol is very quickly metabolized. Discriminating between excessive and responsible levels of drinking makes this a greater challenge.”
The research was published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry.