Study: Alcohol dependence and psychiatric disorders share genetic links

A man in a suit drinking whiskey and smoking a cigarette.

Gene variants associated with alcohol dependence are also linked to the risk of psychiatric disorders and other drug use, a massive study of more than 50,000 people published Nov. 26 in the journal Nature Neuroscience has found.

There were genetic links both to other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, and to use of cigarettes and other drugs like cannabis,” said co-corresponding author Joel Gelernter, the Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and professor of genetics and of neuroscience at Yale.  “As we study larger numbers of people, we expect to be able to determine at least to some extent how much of this correlation, or shared risk, is attributable to alcoholism, and how much may be the consequence of these other disorders.”

The multi-institutional study confirmed that the risk of alcohol dependence is the result of many genetic variants, and that a single gene involving alcohol metabolism plays a significant role in people of both European and African ancestries.


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