Research Confirms Alcoholism as Genetic Disease
Genetic research shows that 50 percent of vulnerability to alcoholism is linked to genetics and the other 50 percent is triggered by environment, such as cultures where heavy drinking is common, the Boston Globe reported.
According to Dr. Mary-Anne Enoch, a research physician at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), genes work both ways, with some protecting people against alcoholism and other genes raising the risk for the disease.
For example, many Japanese, Chinese, and Jewish people carry genes that protect against alcoholism. These genes increase levels of certain liver enzymes, causing nausea, flushing, and rapid heartbeats among those who drink.
On the other hand, many Caucasians carry genes that affect brain function and can increase the risk of becoming an alcoholic.
Genetics research has been ongoing for several years with the goal of better understanding alcoholism so that more effective drugs can be designed to protect people predisposed to addiction. Research is taking place at Indiana University School of Medicine, the University of California at San Diego, Columbia University and the NIAAA.