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HEALTH : Heredity-Alcoholism Tie Hinted

April 17, 1990|From Times Wire Services

BOSTON — Scientists for the first time have found a gene that appears to be linked to alcoholism, providing strong new evidence the disease affecting 18 million Americans is caused at least partly by heredity, it was reported today.

A study of tissue from the brains of 70 human cadavers concluded the gene was present in 77% of alcoholics and absent in 72% of non-alcoholics, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

This is the first reported link between a particular gene and the presence of alcoholism in individuals, although there has been a growing body of evidence suggesting a role for heredity.

The findings could lead to better ways to identify people at risk of becoming alcoholics and a greater understanding of the underlying causes of the disease, which could lead to new treatments and preventive measures.

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