Binge drinking among Jewish and non-Jewish college students

ltural differences, she noted, or perhaps 'religious service attendance' may have different meanings across religious groups.

Researchers examined two groups: 132 (68 female, 64 male) Jewish and 147 (72 female, 75 male) non-Jewish white college students. Participants reported their alcohol consumption for the previous 90 days and provided information about their religious affiliation and the number of religious services attended in the previous year. Study subjects also had blood drawn for genotyping at the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH2) locus, one of several genes that encode the major enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism, and which has been associated with protection from alcoholism. Jewish study participants completed the Jewish Identity Scale, developed and published by researcher Itai Zak in Psychological Reports in 1973. The scale measures the degree to which being Jewish plays a part in one's life, the importance of belonging to the Jewish community, and the closeness one feels to Jews in the world.

"This study has three key findings," said Luczak. "First, religious service attendance is associated with lower rates of binge drinking in non-Jewish college students, but not in Jewish college students. This is consistent with previous research. Second, being religiously Jewish, as compared with secularly Jewish, relates to lower rates of binge drinking, but Jewish cultural identification does not. Third, in the combined sample of Jewish and non-Jewish students, those who possessed the ADH2*2 genetic variation were approximately half as likely to binge drink as those who did not possess the variation."

Luczak said that, for the Jewish sample alone, these findings suggest that religious, and not just cultural, Jewish affiliation is related to lower levels of alcohol consumption. Although this may seem to contradict earlier findings of a weak relationship between religious commitment and lower rates of alcohol use and misuse


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