Gambling addiction can be inherited.

If one of your parents is addicted to gambling the odds are high that you will be as well, research has revealed.  An Australian study of twins found that genes play a central role in whether you are unable to stop playing for high stakes.

The experts from the University of Missouri said it was the first time this genetic link had been found to affect women.

Study author Wendy Slutske, said: ‘Previous research in men showed that gambling addiction can run in the family. This study extends those finding to include women.’

By studying identical and fraternal twins, Prfessor Slutske and colleagues from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, were able to tease out the different impacts of genetic and environmental factors on addiction.

The team asked more than 2,700 women and 2,000 men from the Australian Twin Registry questions about their gambling, and also questioned their friends.

Almost all the study members gambled to some degree but the men were twice as likely as women to be gambling addicts. These differences may be explained by social or environmental influences.

However, the team also found that shared genes play a role.

‘If your twin has a gambling problem, you’re more likely to develop one too if you’re an identical twin than if you’re a fraternal twin,’ they said in their report published in the latest issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The authors concluded that in line with decades of genetic research, ‘shared environmental factors do not explain’ variations in addictive behaviors although that is not to say that the environment plays no role.

‘A perfect storm’ of gambling addiction might occur for the biological child of a gambling addict who is ‘exposed to a problem gambling role model and inherits problem gambling susceptibility genes,’ they wrote.

Even though the research suggests genes play a role in addictive gambling, there’s probably no ‘gambling gene,’ Professor Slutske said.

‘Like alcoholism, problem gambling is a complex disorder,’ Professor Slutske said.

‘The answer will be in a collection of genes, maybe 10 or 100, we don’t know how many, but each gene will increase the risk slightly for developing those problems.’

Via Daily Mail