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Alcoholism, Obesity Share Common Genetic Link: Study

By Nick Tate   |   Friday, 23 Aug 2013 01:22 PM

Alcoholics may be more susceptible to certain types of eating disorders, and vice-versa, according to a new research that suggests a common genetic link to both conditions.
The findings, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, are based on an analysis of nearly 6,000 adult twins by Washington University School of Medicine researchers. Investigators found that common genetic factors seemed to underlie both alcoholism and certain eating disorders, such as binge eating and purging habits.
Genes appeared to explain 38 percent to 53 percent of the risk of developing those disorders, said lead researcher Melissa Munn-Chernoff.

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"This supports the idea that there are common genetic factors contributing to alcohol dependence and these eating disorder symptoms," she added.
Past studies have shown women with eating disorders are more prone to alcohol abuse problems. But the new study is the first to show genetic factors may play a role.
For the new study, Munn-Chernoff's team analyzed data from 5,993 Australian twins. The review indicated genetic susceptibility is key to developing the disorders.
"We need to be aware that these problems can occur together, in both men and women," she said. "If we can better understand the risk factors, we can better understand how to treat these disorders."

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