OK all you femmes out there. It’s official! Here is at last rock-solid scientific evidence you cannot dispute! If males don’t get enough sex they take up booze. Deny them access to your affection and they will turn into alcoholics. And nobody wants that, right?

That is, if you are a fruit fly.

Researchers from the University of California and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have published a paper in the journal Science where they found that male fruit flies that were denied sex increased their alcohol consumption.

The authors took two groups of male fruit flies. They exposed one group to sexually receptive virgin females while the other group was exposed to sexually non-receptive females that rejected their advances. The two groups of males were then given access to two sources of sweet fluids one of which contained 15% alcohol. They found that males that were rejected, and thus didn’t get any sex, drank more of the fluid that contained alcohol.

While any drunk in any bar in America could have told them that, the researchers found something else. They found that the males that were denied sex had 50% lower levels in their brain of a chemical called NPF (neuropeptide F). The authors proceeded to manipulate the levels of NPF by other means than sex, increasing them in the rejected males and decreasing them in the males that had mated, and they were able to reverse the behavior of the flies. Thus the sequences of events seems to be less sex > less NPF > more alcohol, more sex > more NPF > less alcohol.

But don’t you ladies think for a moment that this is a curiosity only limited to fruit flies. There is a protein in the brains of mammals that is similar to NPF, it is called neuropeptide Y (NPY). Lower levels of NPY in the brain of rats leads to higher alcohol and drug consumption. People with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (conditions that make them prone to alcoholism) have lower levels of NPY in their brains, and certain variants of the receptor for the NPY are associated with greater alcohol and drug dependence.

So there you have it. If you ladies want to keep us away from the bottle please, oh please, pleeeeeease grant us access to your lovely charms (especially when we resort to pathetic whining). Let’s work together to keep those NPY levels in our brains elevated!

   ; ^ )

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03/17/2012 9:02pm

Okay, this is a hilarious post. Rolando, you know I'm no scientist but guys are not fruit flies. Still, the evidence seems strong - affection and sex SO much better than booze and drugs. But gee, didn't we know that already?

03/17/2012 11:26pm

Thanks for your comment Barbara. Humans are obviously more complex than fruit flies. But scientist work with these simple organisms, which they can dissect and manipulate, to discover some general principles. Then they later investigate by other means whether similar principles are present in humans. Although this research makes for humorous party conversations (and blog posts) it holds promise in allowing us to discover the neural mechanisms that regulate responses to states like frustration, depression and so forth, and perhaps a way to treat them.

04/27/2012 7:42pm

How funny I just read this, and laughed. I've worked late hours this week and told husband I was too tired to move tonight. His response? He silently went to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of wine. A LARGE glass. :D

04/27/2012 10:05pm

Tell my chromosome buddy that I feel his pain! : ^ (

01/03/2013 2:28pm

So that's why I'm an alcoholic!

01/03/2013 9:19pm

Thanks for your comment. That is the reason we all are! ; ^ )


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