Advancements in technology are allowing doctors to pinpoint where the likelihood for certain diseases are documented in our DNA.
Human Genome Project
The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, was successful in distinguishing and labeling all of our human genes. Genomic medicine includes genetics and the relationship between disease, illness, and genes.
When Angelina Jolie’s doctor was able to identify that she was highly likely to develop cancer, the actress chose to take matters into her own hands. A double mastectomy and the removal of her ovaries eliminates the possibility of cancer in the organs she was most predisposed to harbor the disease, because of her specific genetic makeup.
So how can genomic medicine be used to study alcoholism and addiction?
We know that addiction can be hereditary. If your parents are or were alcoholics or addicts, you are much more likely to progress to the point of addiction when you abuse substances. Can genomic medicine take us further than that?
As of right now, additional research is needed to actually answer that question, but based on a study of 5,889 people, who all have a twin sibling, some statistics about genetics and alcoholism and addiction have been presented.
Largest Twin Study
The largest twin study conducted to date tells us that, in male identical twins, if one is an alcoholic or addict, there is a 50% chance that the other twin will also progress to alcoholism or addiction at some point in his life.
If one female identical twin has an addiction (drugs and/or alcohol), there is a 30% chance that the other will progress to addiction as well.
It’s 33% likely that fraternal male twins and 16% likely that fraternal female twins, will both be alcoholics or addicts.
Unfortunately there is really no surgery you can have to remove the chance of developing an addiction. What we can do, though, is prevent people from abusing substances, and get people help right when they need it.
Genomic medicine can give you more information so you can make double-mascetomy-type choices for yourself.