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Study Examines Genetic Links in Binge Drinking Adolescents

Posted in Teens

Binge drinking can be found among adolescents seeking a cheap thrill. Interestingly, some adolescents may engage more frequently than others and there may be a genetic explanation as to why.

A recent Science Daily release explored this phenomenon as researchers in the Netherlands have conducted studies to determine why some adolescents will binge so frequently and if there could be a genetic component.

This study, led by Carmen S. van der Zwaluw, a PhD candidate at Radboud University, is said to be the first to examine the possibility of a connection between different genes, the risky use of alcohol and coping drinking in adolescents.

According to van der Zwaluw, previous studies have found that alcohol use – especially when it is risky in nature – is partly heritable. What these studies failed to show, however, is which specific genes are involved in the genetic predisposition for risky alcohol use.

This study was used to determine which genes make up an individual’s genetic vulnerability for alcohol abuse. Researchers studied 282 Dutch adolescents who had consumed alcohol at least once in their lives. The evaluation included the collection of DNA samples and the completion of questionnaires.

Helle Larsen, a PhD candidate at the Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, shared that the gene-environment interaction that was found in the study indicates that there is a stronger correlation between coping motives and alcohol consumption in individuals with a specific gene variation.

Researchers suggest that the next step is to determine if other genetic variants increase the risk for drinking problems and if such risks can be mitigated by learning other methods for coping with problems.