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Blue Eyes Linked to Higher Alcoholism Rates

Update Date: Jun 30, 2015 03:41 PM EDT
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Eye color could predict a person's risk of developing alcohol dependency, according to a new study

The latest findings reveal that people with light-colored eyes are significantly more likely to develop alcohol dependency, with blue-eyed individuals having the highest change of becoming alcoholics.

Lead researchers Arvis Sulovari, a doctoral student in cellular, molecular and biological sciences, and Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Dawei Li, Ph.D., of the University of Vermont, said that the latest findings suggest that eye color could be useful in diagnosing and treating alcoholism and other psychiatric illnesses.

"This suggests an intriguing possibility -- that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis," Sulovari said in a news release.

The latest study used data from more than 10,000 individuals, mostly African Americans and European Americans, diagnosed with at least one psychiatric illness. Researchers noted that people diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses were also diagnosed with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and addiction.

"These are complex disorders," he says. "There are many genes, and there are many environmental triggers."

After analyzing 1,263 participants with European ancestry who were dependent on alcohol, researchers found that participants with blue, green, grey and brown eyes were significantly more likely to be dependent on alcohol compared to those with dark brown eyes.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics.

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