By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There has always been a sense that alcoholism runs in families and researchers have studied the topic quite often.

Some of the theories are very interesting. In particular work from the University of Iowa has raised interesting theories.

These researchers studied the relationship between alcohol consumption and variations in a gene involved in processing the brain chemical serotonin in 275 people, largely men, who had an alcohol dependency. They found that those with a particular variation in one gene involved in serotonin processing were more likely to drink more alcohol than those with a different variation.

Researchers theorize that the chronic alcoholics may drink, in part, to alleviate a deficit in serotonin. Those with particular variations may experience a greater or lesser degree of deficit.

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