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Co-occurring risk factors for alcohol dependence and habitual smoking.


Smoking and alcohol dependence frequently occur together, and both behaviors are determined in part by genetic influences. The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA), which is investigating the genetic factors contributing to alcohol dependence, also allows for analyses of the genetic factors determining smoking. Using a sample comprised of alcoholics and their closest (i.e., first-degree) relatives as well as a community-based control sample, COGA investigators found that both alcohol dependence and habitual smoking were transmitted within families. This familial transmission resulted from both common and drug-specific influences, which likely include genetic factors. Further genetic studies (i.e., candidate gene studies and genomic screening approaches) have identified several DNA regions that may contain genes that confer a susceptibility for alcoholism. Some of those genes also may contribute to the risk for habitual smoking.

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