The Influence of Religion on Alcohol Use Initiation: Evidence for Genotype X Environment Interaction
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We examined the possible role of religious upbringing as a mediator of the shared environmental influences and as a moderator of the genetic influences on the risk of alcohol use initiation in a large population-based sample of Dutch adolescent and young adult twins (1967 twin pairs). There was not a significant association between religious participation and alcohol use initiation among Dutch adolescents and young adults. We also hypothesized that the relative magnitude of the genetic influences on the risk of alcohol use initiation would be greater for those adolescents and young adults who were raised in a less religious environment compared to those adolescents and young adults who were raised in a more religious environment. We indeed found higher heritabilities for females without a religious upbringing compared to females with a religious upbringing. Genetic influences accounted for 40% of the variance in alcohol use initiation in nonreligious females, compared to 0% in religiously raised females. Shared environmental influences accounted for 54% of the variance for nonreligious females and 88% of the variance in religious females. For males, the genetic variance was also higher in the nonreligious group compared to the religious group, but this difference was not statistically significant. Whether or not they were raised religiously, the liability to alcohol use initiation in males was moderately influenced by genetic factors (30%) and substantially influenced by shared environmental factors (60%).
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