Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Less intense response to alcohol sheds light on genetic tracing of alcohol dependence

22.07.2005


Clues looking into the root causes of alcoholism are emerging from new findings that center on the genetic patterns of young drinkers, with particular focus on why adolescents are more likely to drink large quantities of alcohol even if they need more alcohol to get the effects they desire.



"The study offers a unique perspective on the beginnings of the alcohol experience and usage patterns of 12-year-olds," explained principal investigator Marc Schuckit, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. "This is the first study correlating the intensity of reaction to alcohol with the amount of alcohol consumed at an early age."

Dr. Schuckit, who also is distinguished professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego Medical School, spoke today at the American Medical Association media briefing, Alcohol Dependence: From Science to Solutions, held in New York City. He also released his study "Performance of a self-reported measure of the level of response to alcohol in 12- to 13-year-olds" published in the July issue of The Journal of Studies on Alcohol.


In the study, 80 children in Bristol, England, who had some experience with alcohol responded to a questionnaire regarding their drinking habits. On average, the respondents reported drinking alcohol about five times in the previous six months. While most of them only consumed one or two drinks at a time, a significant number reported having four to six drinks at a time.

A low response to alcohol is a risk factor for alcohol dependence and a predictor of future alcoholism. "When children with a family history of alcohol dependence begin drinking, about half of them experience little or no intoxication at blood alcohol levels where others would be feeling moderately tipsy," said Dr. Schuckit. "Consequently, these adolescents have a propensity to drink more heavily when they drink because higher blood alcohol levels are required to produce the effects they want."

For the last 20 years, Dr. Schuckit has been researching the importance of a person’s intensity of response to alcohol as one of several inheritable traits that may increase the propensity for alcohol dependence. His research team is searching for genes that may be related to this low alcohol response.

The Role of Genes in Alcohol Dependence

Three primary findings support the importance of genetics and alcoholism. First, the risk for alcohol dependence in the sons and daughters of alcoholics is four times higher than in the general population. Second, the rate of increased risk for alcoholism persists in children of alcoholics even if they are adopted at birth and raised by non-alcoholics. Finally, identical twins have a much higher rate of both becoming dependent on alcohol if one is--compared to the same rate for fraternal twins.

Genes can influence alcohol dependence, but they are not entirely responsible, according to Dr. Schuckit. "The same things that can be said about alcohol dependence can also be said about many medical and psychiatric conditions," he commented. "Let’s use heart attacks as an example. They run in families, they appear to be genetically influenced, but it’s unlikely there is a heart attack gene. What is likely is that in some families what is being passed down is another condition, such as high blood pressure or high blood fats, which then increases the risk for heart attack. For many genetically influenced disorders or conditions, people are more likely to inherit a gene for an intermediate characteristic than a gene for the condition itself. The characteristic, such as the intensity of response to alcohol, then interacts with environment to increase or decrease risk."

There also are genetic characteristics other than the level of response to alcohol that may affect the risk of alcohol dependence. For example, a series of genes that impact alcohol metabolism can cause a more intense response to this drug and a subsequent lower alcoholism risk.

Also, some families pass along a characteristic called impulsivity, which is influenced by genes as well as environment. "If a family carries a high risk of impulsivity and it is passed on to a child, that child is at high risk for alcoholism, drug dependence, gambling and violence," said Dr. Schuckit. He estimates that 20 percent of alcoholics carry their risk through the impulsivity characteristic.

Dr. Schuckit concluded, "The more we understand about the causes of alcohol dependence and the contributing genes, the more likely we will be able to identify tailored preventions and better evaluate treatments once alcoholism develops."

Marc Schuckit, M.D. | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ama-assn.org/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>