A new study has found that the same genes may influence a person’s susceptibility to both alcohol abuse and eating disorders, putting a person with one condition at a higher risk for the other. Other studies have found that alcohol abuse and eating disorder often co-occur. Women with eating disorders have higher rates of alcohol abuse, and nearly half of all individuals with eating disorders also abuse substances.
This latest study, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, was the first to look for a genetic link between the two disorders. Studying nearly 6,000 twins, researchers found that 38 to 53 percent of the risk for each disorder could be attributed to common genes. Researcher Melissa Munn-Chernoff emphasized that treatment centers should be aware of this tendency and “perhaps treat both problems at the same time.”
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