Geneticists have also known for a while that many people of Asian descent have a hard time holding their liquor (compared to those with European ancestry) because their bodies make an atypical version of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase, which metabolizes alcohol.
Researchers said in a new report that they confirmed a link between people with lighter colored eyes and alcoholism.
It seems that both the genetic material that dictates the color of the eye and that which produces a predisposition for excessive alcohol consumption are located closely on the same chromosome. According to the press release, from this data the team found that alcohol dependency increased as eye color lightened and individuals with blue eyes had the strongest incidence of alcohol dependency. But blue eyes were most strongly linked to this condition, the study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics (Part B) revealed.
But, Li says, scientists still do not know the reason, and further research is needed.
He points out that their findings are insufficient to produce a solid conclusion on the matter, but that there is a link between these two features that is worth looking much deeper into.
University of Vermont researchers used a clinical and genetic database of more than 10,000 individuals for their study.
The study looked at 1,263 white Americans.
“These are complex disorders”, Li says.
In future research, Li says he wants to dig deeper into the relationship between cultural background and genetic makeup. The biggest challenge will be identifying a number of genes that are still unknown or missing. “It’s an incredible opportunity to study genomics in the context of complex human diseases”.