Research SummaryWomen and men appear to have different genetic and environmental risk factors for alcoholism, Reuters reported Jan. 24. A quartet of new family studies on alcoholism show, for example, that while both sexes are more likely to develop alcoholism if they have a history of aggressive behavior in childhood, women who experienced severe physical punishment in childhood were also at elevated risk, while men were not.
“Clearly, there are some common antecedents (to alcoholism), such as conduct disorder or symptoms, but there are also predictors unique to each gender,” said researcher
Aruna Gogineni of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “These are the kinds of findings that call out for many more studies on women in order to determine how the mechanisms of alcoholic parental risk may differ in men and women.” Researchers affirmed that children of alcoholics were generally more likely to have alcohol problems themselves, but said that genetic makeup may be more important for men, while environmental factors may have more of an impact on women. For example, one study comparing children of biological and adopted parents with alcoholism found that male children of alcoholics related by blood were more likely to be alcoholics themselves.