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Heritability of alcohol dependence is similar in women and men

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Question: How do genetic and environmental factors influence alcohol dependence in women?

People: 13 595 female twins and 10 524 male twins aged 20–47 years, born in Sweden between 1959 and 1985. The study included monozygotic and same- and opposite-sex dizygotic twins, who were taking part in the Study of Twin Adults: Genes and Environment (STAGE). Participants were identified using the Swedish Twin Registry.

Setting: Sweden; 2005.

Risk factors: Genetic and environmental factors; gender; and childhood trauma (measured using the self-completed Life Stressor Checklist, LSC-R). A basic twin model was used to quantify genetic and environmental effects. Heritability (genetic effects) was compared in male and females. Childhood trauma was assessed in both sexes, but were analyzed and reported on in women.

Outcomes: Lifetime diagnosis of alcohol dependence, established using a standardised, computer-assisted Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Alcohol dependence was classified as late onset (type I) or early onset (type II) alcohol dependence, based on the revised Cloninger-Bohman criteria. …

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  • Sources of funding The Swedish Department of higher Education, the Swedish Research Council, AstraZeneca, the County of Stockholm and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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  • Competing interests None.