August 27, 2013

Eating disorders, alcoholism have genes in common

Alcoholics may be more genetically vulnerable to certain types of eating disorders, and vice-versa, according to a recent study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

In the study involving almost 6,000 adult twins , researchers found that common genetic factors underlie both alcoholism and certain eating disorder symptoms, according to an ABC report. Among the most common co-existing symptoms were alcoholism with eating and purging habits (such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse), especially in women. 

Genes appeared to explain 38 percent to 53 percent of the risk of developing both disorders.

“We need to be aware that these problems can occur together, in both men and women.  So, when health providers see someone with a drinking problem, they may want to ask about bingeing and purging symptoms, or vice-versa, something that, right now, is not routinely done,” lead researcher Melissa Munn-Chernoff, PhD, was quoted as saying.

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