Nature versus Nurture

Good news: “Some 80 percent of a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is genetic.” (No one in any generation that I know of- and I know of four- had Alzheimer’s.)

Bad news:

The genetic influence to alcoholism has been studied since the 1970s, when twin studies first revealed this link. In April of this year, a team led by Susan Bergeson at the University of Texas at Austin found 20 gene candidates that could influence excessive drinking.

“There are now four genes that have been shown by multiple research groups to contribute to risk of alcoholism,” according to Henry Kranzler, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. And Kranzler expects they will find more. “This is a rapidly developing field, such that I would anticipate that up to another 10 such genes will be identified, with the findings replicated independently, in the next decade,” Kranzler told LiveScience.

I have a maternal great-grandfather who was an alcoholic. Two uncles who were alcoholics. A sister and possibly a brother who are alcoholics.

This is one of the reasons that I don’t drink, generally. (I did have sips of champagne at the wedding last weekend. Tiny sips. Champagne tastes nasty.)

I don’t want my children to drink either.

But despite years of educating them on the dangers of drinking, I may be undone. My husband has decided, in the last five years, that it is okay to drink. He does not drink a lot. But, really, I think it is too much. Even a drink a week.

It may be my paranoia. But his father and his brother are alcoholics.

If it’s not nature, it might still be nurture. Or it might be nurture as well as nature.

And even if it’s mostly nature, what does that example risk for our kids who likely inherited some of my genes and maybe those genes?

This news brought to you from Live Science.