A research team from the University of Vermont found that people with blue eyes may have the greatest risk of taking up drinking. The study is the first to reveal a direct link between eye color and alcoholism, researchers suggest.
The new findings were recently published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics (Part B). Study authors hope that their research may help them understand the genetic roots of alcoholism or other psychiatric disorders.
Arvis Sulovari, a researcher focused on molecular and cellular sciences, said that the recent study held great potential for alcohol dependence diagnosis.
According to the study, European Americans with light colored eye, even though some of them had a little brown, grey or green in the center, were at the highest risk of developing a dependence for alcohol, but the strongest tendency was observed among participants with blue eyes.
Research team members suggests that the same gene that is responsible for eye color may line up along a particular chromosome as the gene that determines the tendency of taking up drinking at some point in a person’s life.
Yet, researchers admitted that they didn’t know the reason and they were still studying the issue.
Prof Dawei Li, who is a psychiatric genetics expert, arrived at the University of Vermont three years ago. Since then, he was involved in a huge research project designed to gather genetic data on more than 10,000 people, mostly blacks and whites that had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. But in the database, there are many individuals that have multiple diagnoses such as depression, excessive alcohol use, substance abuse, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Prof Li explained that each disorder has a set of genes that may influence them, but the external triggering factors are many and complex. Sulovari and Li picked only the alcoholics with European origin from the database. And they retested the findings suggesting a link between alcoholism and eye color three times over.
They also adjusted the findings for other factors such as sex, age, ethnic group, and location.
As a follow-up, Prof Li plans to dig deeper into the link between genetics and cultural background in search for genetic causes of mental disorders.
“All the genes identified in the past 20 years can only explain a small percentage of the genetics part that has been suggested,”
he noted. He added that a great deal of genes are still missing so he had recently applied for a grant to pursue the lost genes.
Image Source: Slideshare
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