Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Eyes Have It: Vermont study connects eye color and alcoholism

People with blue eyes might have a greater chance of becoming alcoholics, according to a new study by genetic researchers at the University of Vermont. The work is the first to make a direct connection between a person’s eye color and alcohol dependence and appears in the July 1 2015 issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics.

The study of 1,263 genetic profiles contributes another piece of evidence that alcohol dependency has a genetic foundation. The study profiles were pulled from a database that only contains genetic profiles of people diagnosed with at least one psychiatric illness, which includes an addiction to, or dependence on, drugs or alcohol. Li and associates filtered the database for patients with alcohol addiction or dependence and European ancestry. European Americans with light eye colors, including blue, green and gray, had higher incidences of alcohol dependency than those with dark brown eyes, and that blue eyes were most strongly associated with the condition. The data showed that people with blue eyes were also more likely to have genes associated with alcohol dependence.

Previous research indicated that eye color can be associated with all sorts of specific health conditions. Recovery book, What the Early Worm Gets, also indicated human genome study results implicate flaws in chomosomes 4q and 11 in a higher risk for the disease of alcoholism and contributed to the variability of alcoholism from person to person. Georgia State University concluded fifteen years ago that people with lighter eyes consumed more alcohol. The Vermont researchers now connect eye color to higher probability of the disease.

Geneticists have also known for a while that many people of Asian descent have a different version of the aldehyde dehydrogenase, the enzyme which metabolizes alcohol. Asians commonly have dark eye coloring and have a very low incidence of alcohol dependence and the disease of alcoholism. That isn't to say there aren't alcoholics of Asian descent or that those with dark eyes won't/can't be alcoholic, only that statistically (and genetically) the prevalence is lower than light-eyed men and women of European ancestry. “These are complex disorders,” lead researcher Dawei Li says. “There are many genes, and there are many environmental triggers.”
(see entire article)

Visit for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today.