Binge drinking among Jewish and non-Jewish college students

among Jews, Stephen A. Maisto, professor and director of clinical training in the department of psychology at Syracuse University, believes that the answer may lie in the design of a fundamental measure - defining religious commitment by service attendance.

"Perhaps it would have been more useful to define types of services attended and their meaning to the participants, rather than just a count of the number of services attended," he said. The 'religious affiliation' variable, which summarizes a complex set of practices and beliefs regarding the Jewish religion, he noted, may have tapped into religious practices that affect overall life styles, including alcohol consumption. "Future research definitely needs to conduct more studies that can address the mechanisms underlying drinking pattern differences according to religious affiliation," he said. "The correlation between the two is established. The task now is to achieve a better empirical understanding of the association."

Luczak said the study's genetic findings are related to previous reports that have found a relationship between ADH2*2 and less frequent drinking among Jews, and lower rates of alcohol dependence in Asians and non-Jewish whites. "However, the current study examined binge drinking, which is more related to drinking problems," she said, "and is a different measure than alcohol dependence. [However,] although these findings may not add to the literature on alcohol dependence, they do provide evidence that ADH2*2 also relates to a measure of heavy alcohol use in a combined sample of Jewish and non-Jewish whites."

Luczak and her colleagues will continue to examine drinking behavior, including measures of alcohol abuse and dependence symptoms, in Jewish and non-Jewish college students. "We are also examining the role of culture, religion, and genetic variations in these and other ethnic groups," she said, "including Koreans and Chinese."



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