Spousal choices can influence the risk of developing alcoholism

y roots," commented Michael Vanyukov, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, psychiatry and human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. "Selecting a phenotypically similar spouse increases the chances that offspring will inherit ones genes related to AD risk inasmuch as the spouse shares them. A closer phenotypic and genetic similarity may translate into higher social cohesion and thus benefit the group, and perhaps the whole species. Similar mechanisms likely work with peer affiliation, such as selection of friends. Unfortunately, as with many other benefits, there is a downside to that, the price paid by our species when these mechanisms extend to those traits considered antisocial."

Researchers used telephone interviews to assess AD-related criteria of 5,974 twin participants in the Australian Twin Register who were born in the years 1902 through to 1964, as well as 3,814 spouses of the twins. Statistical modeling was used to determine the extent to which variability in risk for AD was influenced by genetic factors, the extent of spousal association for AD, and whether any association was attributable to assortative mating, reciprocal spousal interaction, or both.

Results revealed that, when examined separately, both assortative mating and spousal interaction effects were "positive," meaning that those with an AD partner appear to be at increased risk of developing AD themselves. However, when examined simultaneously, only assortative mating remained positive while spousal interaction effects appeared to be protective.

"This means that after controlling for assortative mating," said Grant, "having an AD spouse reduces the likelihood of an individual developing AD. This is consistent with a scenario in which an individual with an AD partner reduces his or her consumption in reaction to the others excess. The suggestion of a protective spousal interaction effect after accounting for assortative mating highlights


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