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Faith can overcome alcohol abuse, US study finds: The Church of England Newspaper, July 9, 2010 p 5. July 16, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church attendance lowers the risk of alcohol abuse among teenagers, a study published in the United States has found, even for those who have a genetic pre-disposition for the disease.

In a paper that will appear in the September 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers at the University of Colorado found that “adolescents who are raised to value religious concepts are less likely to develop problems with alcohol use, even in the presence of a genetic predisposition for doing so.”

However, the prophylactic effect of faith on alcohol abuse does not extend to young adults, the study found.

Researchers have long known that neither nature nor nurture by themselves leads to alcoholism, but are influenced by phenotypes, measurable traits or behaviors for the disease that are products of environment and genetics.  “Levels of alcohol-related phenotypes, such as frequencies of drinking and intoxication, can be dependent on social background,” explained Dr. Tanya Button, one of the authors of the study.

“For instance, people with a religious background may be less likely to express alcohol-related phenotypes than those from nonreligious backgrounds,” she said. “Furthermore, the influence of genes on these phenotypes also varies according to social background. We also know that genes play a more important role in alcohol-related phenotypes in people from urban backgrounds, unmarried women, and nonreligious individuals than those from rural backgrounds, married women, or those with a religious upbringing.”

The University of Colorado team examined 1,432 pairs of twins and found that “genetic factors could influence problem alcohol use more in nonreligious adolescents than adolescents with a greater religious outlook.”

Faith “exerted a strong enough influence over the behavior of religious individuals to override any genetic predisposition” towards alcoholism, Dr. Button said.  However, this was not true for young adults “for whom the genetic influence was consistent across levels of religiosity.”

The Colorado study was “evidence that problem alcohol use in adolescents is subject to controlling influences associated with religiosity, even when genetic risks are present,” Dr. Button concluded.

Comments

1. Raging Alcoholic - July 17, 2010

Of course faith plays a big role in preventing people from abusing alcohol. It plays a big role in helping them stop too.


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