Study identifies genetic variants linked to risk tolerance and risky behaviors

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A new study suggests that there are genetic variants linked to risk tolerance and risky behaviors.

An international group that includes researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine has identified 124 genetic variants associated with a person’s willingness to take risks, as reported in a study published January 14 in Nature Genetics.

The researchers emphasize that no variant on its own meaningfully affects a particular person’s risk tolerance or penchant for making risky decisions — such as drinking, smoking, speeding — and non-genetic factors matter more for risk tolerance than genetic factors. The study shows evidence of shared genetic influences across both an overall measure of risk tolerance and many specific risky behaviors.

The genetic variants identified in the study open a new avenue of research on the biological mechanisms that influence a person’s willingness to take risks.

“Being willing to take risks is essential to success in the modern world,” said study co-author Abraham Palmer, PhD, professor of psychiatry and vice chair for basic research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “But we also know that taking too many risks, or not giving enough weight to the consequences of risky decisions, confers vulnerability to smoking, alcoholism and other forms of drug addiction.”

They also found shared genetic influences on overall risk tolerance and several personality traits and neuropsychiatric traits, including ADHD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

To read the full study click here.


Categories: Good Morning San Diego, Health