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The influence of gene-environment interactions on alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders: a comprehensive review

Since 2005, a rapidly expanding literature has evaluated whether environmental factors such as socio-cultural context and adversity interact with genetic influences on drinking behaviors. This article critically reviews empirical research on alcohol-related genotype-environment interactions (GxE) and provides a contextual framework for understanding how genetic factors combine with (or are shaped by) environmental factors to influence the development of drinking behaviors and alcohol use disorders. Collectively, evidence from twin, adoption, and molecular genetic studies indicates that the degree of importance of genetic influences on risk for drinking outcomes can vary in different populations and under different environmental circumstances. However, methodological limitations and lack of consistent replications in this literature make it difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding the nature and effect size of alcohol-related GxE. On the basis of this review, we describe several methodological challenges as they relate to current research on GxE in drinking behaviors and provide recommendations to aid future research.

Authors: Young-Wolff KC; Enoch MA; Prescott CA

Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Jul;31(5):800-16. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.03.005. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

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