Blue Eyes and Alcoholism

Cropped portrait of a handsome and confident young man standing indoorsDid you know that your eye color could affect your risk for alcohol addiction? According to a new study from researchers at the University of Vermont, people with light-colored eyes like blue, green, grey and brown in the center but light around the edges have a higher rate of alcohol dependency compared to individuals with darker eyes. Out of all eye colors, blue eyes had the strongest association with alcoholism. These findings were published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics (Part B).

Researchers analyzed clinical and genetic databases of over 10,000 Americans with and without psychiatric illnesses and isolated 1,263 patients of European descent with diagnosed alcoholism. There was a higher risk associated with light-colored eyes. Then, the team ran the analysis three more times, grouping individuals according to age, gender and location. The same pattern emerged: those with light-colored eyes had a higher incidence of alcohol addiction.

Arvis Sulovari, first author and doctoral student in cellular, molecular and biomedical sciences, emphasizes that they still do not know why there is a correlation between light colored eyes and alcoholism. What is known is that genetic sequences that determine eye color and genetic sequences linked to alcoholism line up along the same chromosome. More research needs to be done to make any specific conclusions.

“This is something that may prove to be useful in the future for other researchers or in clinics when figuring out the cause of alcoholism,” says Sulovari. “It’s definitely not the silver bullet for solving the problem of alcohol dependency, but it’s a start.”

Sulovari explains that his findings point to a genetic component to alcoholism. “This is a mental illness, not just something that comes from excessive drinking, and there needs to be more of an effort to find out more about it” (Source: Health).

 

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