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Are Alcoholism And Eating Disorders Caused By The Same Gene?

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A new research study is suggesting that alcoholism and eating disorders are believed to be influenced by the same genetic factors; they may even be influenced by the same genes.  In a recent article, A Twin Study of Alcohol Dependence, Binge Eating, and Compensatory Behaviors, written by Washington University School of Medicine postdoctoral researcher Melissa A. Munn-Chernoff, Alexis E. Duncan, Julia D. Grant, Tracey D. Wade, Arpana Agrawal, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Pamela A. F. Madden, Nicholas G. Martin, and Andrew C. Heath, reported that genetic risk factors that may cause alcohol dependence or alcoholism have also appeared in men and women who suffer from binging and purging behaviors, bulimia, and for those who suffer from “compensatory behaviors” – better known as starvation, laxative use, or anorexia.  

Eating Disorders

Previous studies have linked alcoholism to bulimic women who have eating disorders, this is the first study to extend some portion of the analysis to men, Munn-Chernoff stated. The team of researchers studied data collected from close to 6,000 identical and fraternal adult twins in Australia, who informed the team of their alcohol abuse and their eating habits, as well as any additional healthy factors that may assist in the research. Although the study was able to decipher the percentages of risk that was genetic, it was unable to identify what specific gene that may be causing alcoholism and eating disorders.

The team’s goal is to try to obtain genetic samples from blood or saliva to narrow it down to the specific gene as they continue their research. In the meantime, they hope their study will help doctors and treatment programs to better assist alcoholics who are dual diagnosed with other disorders, such as eating disorders.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

Treatment programs, like The Watershed, understand that many times there are other co-occurring disorders associated with alcoholism, which is why a dual diagnosis program is so beneficial to those who also suffer from other mental health issues like eating disorders. Many times the symptoms of alcoholism may be concealed by the symptoms of a mental health illness, or vice versa, making it impossible to treat without also addressing all other issues. When treating alcoholism, drug addiction, or eating disorders it is crucial to treat the whole person and not just one problem.

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism and an eating disorder, please contact us today to learn more about our dual diagnosis programs and gender specific groups so that you too can recover from all disorders that may be blocking you at living happy and free of addiction.

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