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Autism and Alcoholism are Genetically Linked

For the first time, a gene that carries an increased risk of autism has also been associated with alcoholism by scientists.

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It's complicated. Thinkstock

By Jason Gotlieb

08/25/11

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Alcoholism in some people can be linked to a gene that also causes autism, found a recent study conducted in London. "A gene called Autism Susceptibility Candidate 2 (AUTS2) was associated with alcoholism," reported FYI Living. The study—which gathered data from 26,316 participants from 12 European populations—tracked how much alcohol each person consumed daily. The subjects' DNA was then examined for the AUTS2 gene. The researchers also used boozing mice to find out whether rodents with the AUTS2 gene hit the bottle harder: "A statistically significant association between amounts of alcohol consumed and AUTS2 gene expression was noted." So yes—the gene was found to be present in a higher-than-average number of alcoholic mice, as well as people. Scientists estimate that around 40% of alcoholics carry a genetic predisposition to their addiction. The study isn't the first to note a high incidence of alcoholism in families with autism, but the genetic evidence it uncovered is new. It's hoped that the latest discoveries will aid understanding of the hereditary mechanisms that influence both alcoholism and autism.

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