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Sunday, 5 July 2015

The eyes have it

The eyes of an alkie?
I've just read an article about research by the University of Vermont that suggests that people with lighter eyes are more likely to suffer from alcoholism. The researchers found that among European-Americans, those with light-coloured eyes (i.e. green, grey or brown) are more likely to suffer from alcohol dependency than people of a similar background with dark brown eyes; blue-eyed people are apparently most at risk.

Eye colour was previously linked to alcohol in 2000 when a study found that among one sample of women, those with dark eyes averaged 4.91 drinks in the previous month as compared to 5.78 for their light-eyed counterparts.  

It's interesting, but no one can claim that even the higher figure, 5.78 drinks in a month, constitutes a definition of alcoholism. If there is anything in this, I don't think it's possible to conclude that eye colour can actually be the cause. At most, it might mean that someone who has been subjected to the many factors that can lead to alcoholism might have a slightly greater chance of actually developing a dependency if their eyes are the 'wrong' colour. Even then I'm not entirely convinced: my father had blue eyes and rarely had more than three bottles of Guinness on the few occasions he had a drink, although I do appreciate that a sample of one isn't statistically valid.

Predictably, the item where I read this was illustrated by two pints of draught bitter.
Report in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics.

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