According to a new study, the early signs of alcoholism may be reflected in your eye color. A group of researchers from University of Vermont found that having light-colored eyes makes you more prone to taking up drinking later on.
But the group with the highest risk of turning into alcoholics is blue-eyed people, unless the data on more than 1,260 American drinkers with European ancestry are inaccurate.
Researchers reported that study participants who had a drinking problem also had light-colored eyes. Dark-brown-eyed participants were at a lower risk of becoming alcoholics, the data suggest.
The results remained consistent even after the necessary adjustments for other risk factors such as gender, cultural background, age, and social status. But people with blue eyes were more prone of becoming alcoholics regardless of those factors.
The data on study participants were gathered from a comprehensive database with information on 10,000 individuals diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder.
Prof Dawei Li, co-author of the study and psychiatric genetics expert, teamed up with other scientists to build the data base and find the genetic underpinnings of mental disorders. Many of the subjects in the database had multiple diagnoses including depression, schizophrenia, drug abuse, alcoholism, bipolar disorder and so on. Prof. Li explained that many genes can influence a mental disorder including alcoholism, but there are also many environmental factors that may trigger it.
The recent study also revealed a “statistically significant” correlation between a gene that triggers eye color and a gene responsible for alcoholic behavior.
Researchers classified study participants as “alcoholics” by taking into account the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Currently, researchers try to retest the findings to see whether the correlation still stands. But the team is also interested in finding whether the relationship is purely genetic or other factors play a crucial role.
Prof. Li admitted that his team didn’t know what drove the link. But if the follow-up studies confirm the relationship, it may prove a useful tool in alcohol dependence prevention and clinic diagnosis.
The study authors published a paper on their findings in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B.
More than a decade ago, researchers at the Georgia State University found that there is a definite link between people with light-colored eyes and excess alcohol consumption. Back then, scientists noted that those people “consumed significantly more alcohol” than people with dark brown eyes.
Image Source: Greg Savage