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Women with gambling problems might point to genes, but that doesn't mean they should

June 9, 2010 |  7:13 am

Dice Now women with gambling problems can blame their genes just as much as men can, so finds a study published Monday in Archives of General Psychiatry.

In attempting to analyze the causes of pathological gambling among women, researchers at the University of Missouri and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia conducted interviews with 2,889 twin pairs, 57% of whom were women. They then analyzed the results.

They write in their conclusion:

"This study represents a major step forward in that it establishes for the first time that genes are as important in the etiology of [disordered gambling] in women as they are in men. ... The susceptibility genes contributing to variation in liability for [disordered gambling] may also overlap considerably in men and women."

Here's the abstract of the women-and-gambling study.

But don't be too quick to take this as license to go broke. Other new research suggests that the very people who should change their behavior are the ones most likely to use their genes as an excuse.

Those findings, to be published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, are based on a survey about physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and other activities. Says a National Institutes of Health news release about the genes-and-behavior study:

"People with more habits that put their health at risk tended to favor genetics to explain health conditions. They also tended to place less value on learning about how health habits affect disease risk."

That research is to be published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Bob Carey / Los Angeles Times