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Doctors Meet A Decade Later

I just had my ten-year medical school reunion. It’s hard for me to imagine it’s been ten years since my last medical school class. It’s been fourteen years since that first week of gross anatomy. That class was so hard, I almost dropped out of medical school after one week.

A bunch of us local docs from my medical school class of 2000 rode to academic mecca in a stretch limo. What did I learn from my experience at my ten-year medical school reunion? Other than forgetting a few names:

  • When I was in medical school, lots of medical students, on occasion, would  drink heavily. I learned ten years later some doctors, on occasion, still drink heavily and get drunk.
  • When I was in medical school, lots of medical students smoked cigarettes. I learned ten years later some doctors, on occasion, still smoke (but only when they’re drinking). Apparently.
  • When I was in medical school, some students were really funny. I learned ten years later some doctors, on occasion, are still really funny, even when they aren’t drunk.
  • When I was in medical school, some students were really smart. I learned ten years later some doctors, on occasion, are still really smart. Most of us others have been dumbed down with years of practice.

It was fun to learn about what my colleagues have been doing. Ten years later the cellphones are a bit fancier, everyone’s talking about their Facebook page, and I’m completely content sitting  on the couch with Mrs. Happy watching everyone else get drunk like it was yesterday.

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Social Drinking: Is It In Your Genes?

Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, published a very interesting paper focusing on the genetic background of social drinking. Specific gene variants might increase the risk for extensive alcohol use or abuse when spending time with heavy-drinking peers. An excerpt from Medical News Today:

Drinking alcohol increases levels of dopamine –- a brain chemical that causes pleasure and makes us feel good. The dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) has been shown to be involved in motivation of seeking out rewards. Research has suggested that carrying a specific form (or variant) of this gene –- one that includes seven or more repeats of a certain section of the gene –- may be associated with craving caused by alcohol-related cues. Psychological scientist Helle Larsen from Radboud University in The Netherlands and her colleagues wanted to investigate if this 7-repeat gene variant plays a role in how an individual responds to alcohol-related cues.

The results showed an effect between how much the confederate drank and the gene variant on volunteers’ alcohol consumption: When the confederate was seen consuming three or four drinks, carriers of the 7-repeat form of the gene drank more than twice as many glasses of alcohol than did noncarriers of the gene variant. However, when the confederate consumed only one drink, there was no difference in alcohol consumption between carriers and noncarriers. These findings suggest that individuals carrying this form of the DRD4 gene may be more sensitive than noncarriers to other people’s drinking behavior.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

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