Sex and Age Effects on the Inheritance of Alcohol Problems: A Twin Study

Matt McGue, Roy W. Pickens, Dace S. Svikis

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213 Scopus citations


Male monozygotic cotwins of probands with Alcohol Abuse-Dependence (n = 85) were more likely than male same-sex dizygotic cotwins (n = 96) to report alcohol, drug, and conduct disorder problems. For women, rates of problem behavior did not differ between monozygotic (n = 44) and same-sex dizygotic (n = 43) cotwins. Opposite-sex dizygotic twin data (n = 88) revealed significant cross-sex transmission; alcohol problems were greatest among male cotwins of female probands. For men, proportion of liability variance associated with additive genetic factors was significantly greater when proband had an early (h2 = .73 ± .18) rather than late (h2 = .30 ± .26) age of onset. For women, heritability did not vary as a function of proband's age of onset, and the pooled estimate suggested little genetic influence (h2 = .00, SE not computable). Findings suggest that genetic influences may be substantial only in the etiology of early-onset male alcoholism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-17
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1992


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