It seems like a strange correlation, and as all of the scientific world will tell you, correlation does not ever mean causation – but the fact remains that several studies have shown that the bluer your eyes are, the more likely you are to be an alcoholic. In fact, it’s not just blue eyes, but any lighter colored eyes, including green, grey, hazel, and those which may have some brown in the middle but a ring of blue on the outside. This likely means something broader on the genetic scale, such as European heritage, but may be one of the indicators that people and physicians can use to assess the genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
Through the years, there’s been a lot of debate in the medical community if alcoholism is truly a disease – most physicians and scientists agree that it is and treat it as such. It’s a complex biopsychosocial issue which requires many modalities to overcome and has dire consequences – including death – if it is not properly treated.
Researchers at the University of Vermont most recently concluded there is a link between eye color and alcoholism, but it’s not the first time this theory has been suggested. A 2000 study found a similar conclusion, reporting that among one sample set of women, dark-eyed females averaged 4.91 drinks in the last month to light-eyed females’ 5.78. It’s not the only genetic association with blue eyes, either: those with blue eyes are also found to have lower pain tolerance and more competitive natures. Lead Researcher Dr. Soluvari says that this may be an important screening tool for physicians to assess if someone is higher risk.
“This suggests an intriguing possibility — that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis. These findings could help us better understand the roots of not only alcoholism but other psychiatric illnesses as well.”
It’s important to understand that far more than eye color plays a part in the development of alcohol dependence– life circumstances, family and cultural attitudes towards alcohol, even spirituality, can influence alcohol dependency and addiction. But any clue that science can give is a potential screening possibility – to let those know that they do have higher odds of developing alcohol dependence if they have certain physical characteristics, which all seem to be genetically linked somehow. That is the missing piece of the puzzle, researchers say – how these genetic components are linked.
What are your thoughts? Do people you know with alcohol dependence tend to be blue-eyed?
[photo courtesy of techinlouisville]