Although we learn from a young age that excessive alcohol use is dangerous for your health, researchers are slowly discovering that alcohol abuse may be an illness that not all people can easily fend off. Alcoholism may actually be linked to your genes.
Researchers from the University of Vermont recently released a study in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part 2: Neuropsychiatric Genetics. The study found that European-Americans with light-colored eyes — colors like gray, green and brown in the center — have higher rates of alcohol dependency than those with darker-colored eyes.
If you have blue eyes, you're at an even higher risk of abusing alcohol because of your light color.
In a press release, researcher Dawei Li admits that "we still don't know the reason," but they've discovered that the genes that determine eye color sit right next to the genes linked to alcoholism on the very same chromosome.
He continues, "These are complex disorders. There are many genes, and there are many environmental triggers." Because this mental disorder is so complex and cannot be easily understood just yet, it's possible that all the triggers are working together to create this deadly, addictive concoction.
Researchers from the department of psychology at Georgia State University conducted a similar study back in 2000, which was the first to recognize the correlation between the two sets of genes. In it, they observed one sample set of women with dark eyes who drank an average of 4.91 drinks in one month, while females with lighter eyes drank 5.78 drinks.
That's a substantial difference, considering the drinks may contain more quantities of high-proof alcohol depending on what the drink is.
There are a few explanations the study offers to get to the root of alcohol abuse. Researchers from Georgia State University explain that a person's autonomic sensitivity to external stimuli, behavioral inhibition, and proneness to anxiety are also related to eye color and, in turn, inclination to abuse alcohol.
While those with dark eyes are highly sensitive to alcohol and drug consumption, those with light eyes have a lower sensitivity to it. Therefore, in order to physically react to the alcohol, more of it must be consumed to feel its euphoric effects.
With this new knowledge, researchers believe these new findings hold the key to understanding the source of alcoholism and other psychological disorders, just by looking at the placement of genes on certain chromosomes.
Along with further understanding and getting to the root cause of alcoholism, researchers are one step closer to finding a cure for this psychological illness.