Women and men taste alcohol differently: what scientists discovered

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Unsweetened alcohol tastes bitter to women

Researchers have long noted the difference in alcohol consumption habits between women and men and how alcohol dependence develops in different genders. Now it seems that they are one step closer to solving this mystery, which will help discover effective ways to overcome the problem.

It turns out that it's all down to a substance in the brain that affects the perception of the taste of alcohol. New Atlas wrote about the relevant study by Australian scientists.

Today, alcohol abuse is a very serious problem. Every year, it causes about 3 million deaths worldwide. Observations made over the past 20 years show that there has been an increase in risky alcohol use among women such as binge drinking.

Developing ways to regulate these behaviors is complicated by the fact that it requires knowing how to control the CART system, a neuropeptide protein known as cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript. It is involved in a wide range of body functions, including energy balance, depression, anxiety, and reward-related behaviors, including alcohol use disorders.

Researchers from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia, studied the CART system. They are trying to explain the differences between alcohol consumption in men and women. As they found out, one of the reasons is the influence of a certain chemical on its taste.

According to the author of the study, Lee Walker, the taste of alcohol is a factor that is often overlooked when studying such issues. However, his group found a chemical in the brain that makes alcohol taste bitter to women. However, the bitterness can be removed by sweetening the drink.

To establish this, the researchers gave high doses of alcohol to female and male mice, including those who had the CART removed. For 10 weeks, they gave them free access to two bottles: one with ethanol and one with water. Scientists measured how much and what the mice drank daily. To determine whether taste affects the alcohol consumption of female mice, sucrose was added to the ethanol bottle.

"When we inhibited CART in male mice, their alcohol consumption increased. And when we removed the same chemical from the brains of female mice, they drank less. But when the alcohol was sweetened, the female mice drank more," Walker explained the results. According to him, this suggests that alcohol is unpleasant for women without CART.

At the same time, the scientists attributed the differences they observed not to the level of sex hormones but to the part of the brain where CART is involved in regulating alcohol consumption. It is the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA). Female mice, whose CeA CART was neutralized, drank plain alcohol less and consumed sweetened alcohol more.

Thus, scientists say, they have discovered a new mechanism by which CART regulates alcohol consumption. It mostly affects female mice, changing their sensitivity to bitter taste. This can help develop an effective treatment for unhealthy alcohol-related behavior in women, the researchers believe.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL published an expert's explanation of what happens to the body if you drink beer every day.

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