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From: (David Faux)
Subject: Re: [DNA] Differences in DNA mutations in families:
Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2005 14:58:03 +0000


Ann:

Long before Kittles article the Y had been "under the microscope" as a candidate for possessing a gene predisposing men to alcoholism. There is support from twin and adoptive studies. I can recall back in the 1980s reading articles on the risk factors for alcholism and that adoptive studies (with the son never having met the biological father) showed that sons of alcoholic fathers were at 4 times greater risk than controls for becoming alcoholic. Since the effect was not seen in the female children of alcoholics, the Y has long been the "logical" candidate. The same findings apply to anti-social personality disorder, however Kittles was unable to find any confirming evidence in relation to associated personality traits that at one time were thought to be the cornerstone of alcohol dependence.

I am unclear why there has not been more follow up work. I make the same comment in relation to the work of LeVay, Hamer (no not Michael Hammer) and others who claimed to have located a gene on the long arm of the X chromosome that codes for sexual orientation, possibly mediated by a protein influencing the size of the suprachiasmic nucleus of the hypothalamus (smaller in gay than in straight males). These studies have been supported by twin and adoptive studies, as well as family studies (sexual orientation of members of the maternal and paternal families of gay men).

Both lines of inquiry have important consequences in how we view the intricacies of human behavior. Kittler's research suggests that alcohoism is biologically mediated (I recall the days when we were taught that it was due to "moral weakness" or other outmoded concepts); and LeVay and Hamer's work points to a biological explanation of sexual orientation differences in humans (again I can recall when I was taught that this was a "lifestyle choice" - although there never was any research that would support this hypothesis).

I wonder if many of these studies have dead ended due to the present efforts (thanks to huge pots of available grant money) to do genome screening of isolated populations and scan for genes related to coronary artery disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and so on.

David F.


-------------- Original message --------------
<snipped>
> Bottom line, I think it's premature to talk about a "gene" for alcoholism on
> the Y chromosome, and in fact it could needlessly disturb people.
>
> Ann Turner


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