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British physicians discovered 26 genetic variants associated with a predilection for risky behavior. As stated in the article published in Communications Biology, as well as in the author’s text in The Conversation, the researchers found positive correlations between risk-taking and the development of obesity in childhood, smoking, as well as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The study covers 436 thousand people.
Typically, risk appetite is typical of adolescents, but in some people it becomes a habit and they behave the same way in adulthood. People at risk tend to smoke more often than those who prefer not to take risks, and start smoking at an early age; they are more prone to regular use of alcohol. Psychological studies have shown that a risk appetite is associated with an elevated body mass index. Also, risk appetite is associated with impulsiveness, with overeating and obesity. Previously, genetic studies have also been conducted that have revealed associations between risk appetite and the age of first sexual contact, as well as some mental disorders: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Physicians from the University of Cambridge decided to look for genetic variants that reliably associate with a propensity for risk. To do this, they analyzed the data of a full genomic analysis of 436,236 white Europeans from the Biobank of the United Kingdom with an average age of 56.8 years, women making up 54 percent of the participants. About a quarter (113,882 people) answered affirmatively about the propensity to take risks. In addition, scientists added to them the results of a study of eating behavior of 1,092 Britons conducted in 2004-2015.
Results of genomic genome analysis of 436 thousand participants in the study. The blue dots show polymorphisms within the region of one million base pairs. The pink line indicates a threshold of statistical significance (p = 5 * 10-8)
E.Clifton et al. / Communications Biology, 2018
As a result, scientists identified 26 loci, 24 of which were previously unknown. In particular, four of them were associated with the body mass index (p = 6.6 * 10). Also, researchers found options that linked the propensity to risk with the development of obesity in childhood, the earlier initiation of smoking, the impulsiveness in choosing food in men and the age of first child birth in women. In addition, the authors of the article found four regions in the brain, where there is an increased expression of genes associated with risk appetite: the gyrus gyrus, hippocampus, hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex. The same regions showed increased activity during fMRI studies (1, 2, 3, 4). The researchers confirmed the genetic link between risk appetite and mental disorders: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
As the authors of the paper note, their results are “important, because the word” risky “can be associated with the image of an athlete who enjoys freediving and riding without a helmet on a mountain bike. Reality is not so spectacular. Taking a risk is often accompanied by daily decisions that may lead to a deterioration in health status over time. “
Previously, scientists have shown that smoking people are at increased risk of hearing loss. And in elderly people who adhere to the diet of hypertensives and eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains, the risk of depression decreases.