Blue Eyes May Increase The Risk Of Alcoholism

First Posted: Jun 30, 2015 09:39 PM EDT

Some of us may be partial to blue eyes, but did you know a new study actually links this shade to an increased risk of alcohol dependency?

Recent findings published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
suggest that individuals with light-colored eyes are significantly more likely to develop alcohol dependency, with blue-eyed individuals having the highest risk.

Furthermore, researchers found that the study results suggest that eye color could be useful in the diagnosis and treatment of alcoholism and certain psychiatric illnesses.

"This suggests an intriguing possibility -- that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis," Arvis Sulovari, a doctoral student in cellular, molecular and biological sciences, and Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Dawei Li, Ph.D., said in a news release.

For the study, researchers examined data from over 10,000 individuals, consisting of mostly African Americans and European Americans diagnosed with at least one psychiatric illness. Many had more than one mental health issues, ranging from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or addiction. 

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

From there, the researchers filtered out those of European ancestry with alcohol-dependent issues. They discovered a sample of 1,263 participants of who were dependent on alcohol who also had blue, grey, green or brown eyes and who were significantly less likely to have dark brown eyes.

"What has fascinated me the most about this work has been investigating the interface between statistics, informatics and biology," he concluded. "It's an incredible opportunity to study genomics in the context of complex human diseases."

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