MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Is alcoholism in your genes?

Date: Wed May 6 10:54:51 1998
Posted By: kathi clement, faculty md, family practice, Univ. of Wyoming
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 894400361.Me

Twin and adoption studies provide the evidence for a genetic predisposition 
 to alcoholism.  Part of this may be related to alcohol sensitivity due to 
a loss of enzyme that helps with the breakdown of acetaldehyde.  When this 
is absent or reduced there are unpleasant side effects when alcohol is 
consumed (flushing).  Another possible genetic factor that is being 
considered now is focused on a neurotransmitter or "brain substance" called 
serotonin - with some alcoholics there is a decrease in transmission.  But 
there are many other factors not related to genetics.  The good news is 
there is some increase in risk of developing alcoholism, but that doesn't 
mean you will definitely become an alcoholic.

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