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Alcohol Res Health. 2002;26(4):264-73.

Sex differences in the genetic risk for alcoholism.

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Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders, Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA.


One of the characteristics influencing a person's risk for alcoholism is his or her sex, and various factors may contribute to sex differences in risk. Adoption studies have provided some evidence of possible sex differences in the heritability of alcoholism, but overall the findings have been inconclusive. Twin studies have consistently supported the role of genetic risk factors in the heritability of alcoholism in men, and shared environmental factors also play a role in the familiality of alcoholism among women. In addition, sex differences exist in the patterns of transmission of alcoholism between family members. However, the genetic epidemiology research conducted to date on this issue has several limitations, some of which may be resolved by future molecular genetic studies.

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