Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Genetic and Environmental Predictors of Alcohol Use in Asian American Young Adults.



Among Asian American young adults, variations in alcohol-metabolizing genes (i.e., aldehyde dehydrogenase [ALDH2] and alcohol dehydrogenase [ADH1B]) are protective, whereas Korean ethnicity, family history of alcohol problems (FH), and acculturation represent risk factors for alcohol misuse. This study aims to integrate these genetic and environmental factors in a sample of Asian Americans expressing a wide range of alcohol use behaviors and problems.


Participants were 97 Asian American young adults (42% female) recruited as heavy and light drinkers (n = 49 and 48, respectively). Participants completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, Timeline Followback, Vancouver Acculturation Index, and Family Tree Questionnaire. All participants provided buccal cell samples for DNA analysis.


Family history-positive (FH+) subjects reported greater alcohol use than family history-negative (FH-) subjects. A FH × ALDH2 interaction was observed such that FH- subjects demonstrated no ALDH2 effect, yet in FH+ subjects, the ALDH2*2 genotype was associated with increased alcohol use. A significant main effect of acculturation was also moderated by FH such that the positive association between acculturation and alcohol use was greater among FH+ subjects and, in particular, among FH+ men.


Although preliminary, these results suggest that the potential protective effects conferred by ALDH2 and ADH1B are moderated by FH, such that a positive FH appeared to abolish the protective effect of these genes. Further, acculturation was associated with greater alcohol use in FH+ subjects only. If replicated in larger samples, these data suggest that alcohol-metabolism genes may not be protective in the context of high environmental risk.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View