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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Income May Play A Role In Drinking Habits

New research suggests that levels of wealth may play a role in how much one drinks, NPR reports. The findings showed that people in lower income brackets had greater variance in how much they drank, compared with people with higher incomes.

Over a ten year period, researchers interviewed 672 pairs of both identical and fraternal adult twins. The sets of twins shared the same environment growing up and were interviewed twice, once at the beginning and again at the end.

Within the low-income group researchers found more light drinkers, non-drinkers, more heavy drinkers, than people with higher incomes. However, those with higher incomes were found to drink more overall, although this group appeared to have a greater ability to moderate the amount of alcohol they drank, according to the article.

With regard to genetics, researchers found that they have a larger impact on drinking habits in the low income group. This finding, according to the researchers, suggests that the stresses of low income could trigger genetic vulnerabilities for alcohol use.

In the higher income group, environmental factors played a bigger role in drinking habits. This may be due to higher-income communities having more uniform family norms about drinking, the article reports.

 “Our study’s key finding is that genetic and environmental effects on the amount of alcohol use are not constant across all individuals in the population, but instead vary by the socioeconomic context,” lead researcher Nayla Hamdi of the University of Minnesota said in a news release. She added the findings suggest “genes and environments do not influence alcohol use in isolation but rather in interaction with one another.”

The findings appear in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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