London, July 20 : Holding a drink is not a talent that people acquire with experience, but it is the work of two genes, says a group of researchers.
In the study, scientists have claimed that the carriers of one or both genes facilitate quick processing of alcohol through the body.
One effect of this study of 9,000 people in the UK, has stated that this ability of these genes can actually reduce the chance of developing mouth, throat and oesophageal cancer by half.
But they found that only a minority of people in the UK have the genes, which belong to the ADH range. These genes are present in a pair in every individual- one inherited from each parent.
However, only 15 percent to 20 percent have ADH7, while 5 percent have ADH8, both of which fight the ill effects of drinking.
"We don't know how the protection occurs, but we do now know that these genes have that effect and that could be hugely useful in giving us a much broader understanding of cancer processes in general," The Scotsman quoted Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser to the World Cancer Research Fund, which helped to finance the study, as saying.
While health experts have supported the new findings, still they have warned against them being seen as a green light to drink heavily.
Professor Wiseman said: "This shouldn't have any direct effect on people's drinking behaviour. Those people with one or both of these rare gene variants are lucky in that they are lesser risk of developing these cancers.
"Having up to half the risk is significant. But they still face some risk. So the advice to them wouldn't be, 'Go away and drink."
However, people fail to find out if they carry the genes, as family doctors would not know, and also a reliable test is not easily accessible.
Dr Paul Brennan, the researcher who led the study at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, said: "Those 20percent to 25 percent of people who have one or both are gene variants - if they drink alcohol, their risk of getting these head and neck cancers is reduced by about half."
The study has been published in the journal Nature Genetics.