Do you have blue eyes? You may be at greater risk for alcoholism. A new study that found that people with lighter-colored eyes might be genetically predisposed to the disease.
The study by genetic researchers at the University of Vermont, which was published in the July issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics (Part B), looked at data on 1,263 white Americans and compared eye color with alcohol dependency problems. Researchers found that the tendency toward alcoholism increased as an individual's eye color lightened, with the strongest link occurring in those who had blue eyes.
It's possible that this link is just a coincidence. But the study's authors, Arvis Sulovari and Dawei Li, both from the University of Vermont, don't think that it is. For starters, Sulovari and Li rearranged the data to factor in other possible links - such as age, gender, ethnicity, and geographic locations. Still, eye color remained the primary connection to alcoholism. They also noted that the genetic components that determine eye color line up along the same chromosome as the genes related to alcohol abuse.
Previous research has hinted at a similar connection. A study in the year 2000 found that light-eyed women drank more alcohol in the course of a month than dark-eyed women.
“This suggests an intriguing possibility — that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis,” said Sulovari.
The researchers don't know why eye color would be linked to alcoholism. But they believe that there is a connection. And the hope is that this new study's findings will help researchers learn more about the causes of alcoholism and the genetic causes for the disease.
Related stories on MNN: