Sunday, January 15, 2012

Alcohol: Jewish Nature vs Russian Culture

The Nurture vs Nurture debate is usually centered around psychological and/or intelligence factors. For example, there's strong evidence that happiness, i.e. one's ability to be satisfied with his/her own life, is highly heritable.

Alcohol dependence seems to be another area where genes and culture collide.
Sept 16, 2002. BBC News -- Statistics suggest that Jews have fewer problems with alcohol than Caucasians in general. Previous studies have suggested that one in five Jews have this gene [ADH2] variation - higher than in a Caucasian population.

Among more recent immigrants from the Soviet Union, the protective effect was far less strong. They generally had a history of far heavier drinking.

Dr Hasin [Columbia University] said: "The study's findings suggest that the recent Russian immigrants' previous exposure to the heavy-drinking environment of Russian culture overcame the protective effects of the gene.
The culture appeared to be winning this particular battle. But as the result of massive Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union, over last 50 years the number of Jews in Russia shrunk from 2.5 million to about 150 thousand. The genes had won the war.

tags: health, biology, medicine, culture

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