Melissa A. Munn-Chernoff, PhD, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues studied 5,993 twins from the Australian Twin Registry who completed a modified version of the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism that assessed lifetime alcohol dependence and binge eating. A general health questionnaire was used to assess compensatory behaviors in women.
The researchers found that, in women, additive genetic and non-shared environmental effects influenced alcohol dependence, binge eating, and compensatory behaviors, with heritability estimates ranging from 38–53%. A common effects model equated all genetic and non-shared environmental influences in men and women; the heritability estimates were 50% for alcohol dependence and 38% for binge eating. Significant genetic correlations were seen between alcohol dependence and binge eating, alcohol dependence and compensatory behaviors, and binge eating and compensatory behaviors.
“These findings indicate that common genetic factors may underlie the vulnerability to alcohol dependence and the liability to binge eating and compensatory behaviors,” the authors write.