Article Says Genetics May Be 60 Percent of the Factors Toward Alcohol Abuse

Of all types of global disease, alcoholism is a leading killer, taking the lives of more than 2.5 million individuals annually. In the U.S., it’s a leading factor in deaths of people in the 15 to 60 year old age group, and annual levels consumed by people in the U.S. are up to ten liters of pure alcohol, on average.

Not only is alcoholism linked to fatalities, it is also a major factor in high numbers of liver disease, heart and cardiovascular problems, and several types of cancer. Deaths related to alcoholism are also widespread, including driving accidents or other accidents, along with physical abuse. Thousands of cases of mental illness are also linked to alcoholism, such as persistent, chronic depression.

A recent article features a question and answer with Dr. Marc Schuckit, School of Medicine, University of California at San Diego. Schuckit said that alcoholism is far more prevalent across the globe than even drug abuse, especially in terms of the numbers of people who are dependent on alcohol.

Continuing research is looking at the clues genetics may give in terms of a person’s risk for alcohol abuse, with experts estimating that genetics can represent as much as 60 percent of the total factors for the disease. By looking at the presence of specific genes, experts may be able to determine early-on which individuals may be more susceptible and administer specific prevention steps.

Experts can also use current genetic research to explore how a person’s physical response to alcohol may determine their risk level for abuse. Certain types of genes may allow a person to drink large levels of alcohol with little effect, while others feel the impacts of alcohol after small amounts. Those with a greater level of sensitivity toward alcohol may have a lower risk of developing a dependence or addiction.

Schuckit also said that research related to sensitivity levels toward alcohol may be even more important in helping prevent alcohol abuse before it starts among adolescents.