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Family History of Alcoholism Puts Student Drinkers at Risk
Date:6/4/2008

They're more likely to continue abuse after college as well as face behavioral problems

WEDNESDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- College students with a "dense" family history of alcoholism have the highest risk of alcohol-use disorders, a U.S. study says.

While most university students tend to "mature out" of heavy drinking by the time they're young adults, some develop alcohol-use disorders, or AUDs. Most genetic research on family history of alcoholism has focused on alcohol use by the parents, most often the father.

But this study found that the density of family history of alcoholism (FHA) is much more effective.

"Using a density measure of FHA can identify a greater number of individuals who may be at risk for developing an alcohol problem. The greater the number of affected relatives, the greater the potential risk of developing an AUD. Ours is the first published study to examine this measure among college students," first author Christy Capone, a postdoctoral research fellow at Brown University's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, said in a prepared statement.

The study included 293 female and 115 male undergraduates from a northeastern U.S. university who completed an anonymous survey.

"Our use of a density measure identified a large proportion of students, about 29 percent, who are at potentially greater risk for development of AUDs based on their report of alcoholism among first- and second-degree relatives," Capone said. "Our other key finding was the relationship between FHA and other potential risk factors -- behavioral undercontrol, age of onset of drinking (AOD), and cigarette use."

"Family density appears to be a promising method to identify a higher percentage of at-risk individuals," John Hustad, a research associate at Brown University, said in a prepared statement. "For example, in this study, approximately 44 percent of the at-risk participants would have
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