Addiction

02 June 2009

Violent drunks explained

Low glycogen levels could explain why some people get aggressive or violent when they drink, but the problem could be avoided with medication and regular meals, a study shows.

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Low glycogen levels could explain why some people always turn aggressive or violent when they drink, a Finnish study showed, suggesting the problem could be avoided with medication and regular meals.

The University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital study analysed the insulin and glycogen levels of 49 "impulsive, violent, antisocial male offenders" who had alcohol problems and committed violent acts when drunk.

Researchers compared their insulin and glycogen levels with a control group of 40 healthy men. During the eight-year follow-up period, 17 out of 49 men committed at least one new act of violence while under the influence of alcohol.

Tests showed that insulin levels among the repeat offenders was higher and glycogen levels were lower than among men in the control group, or those who did not commit violent offences again.

What the findings mean
The human body converts carbohydrates such as bread into glucose and some of it is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. When the blood insulin level is low, for example after a fast, the liver converts glycogen back into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream.

"This might suggest that substances increasing glycogen formation and decreasing the risk of hypoglycaemia might be potential treatments for impulsive violent behaviour," researchers said in a statement. They added that regular eating habits while drinking alcohol were also important in preventing new violent crimes. – (Sapa, June 2009)

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