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Keywords:

  • male twins;
  • alcohol use;
  • longitudinal analysis

Abstract

The objective of the present study was to investigate longitudinal changes in drinking behaviors of adult male twins and model these changes as a function of genetic and environmental influences. Alcohol data available for World War II veteran twins, first surveyed in 1967–69 and followed up during 1983–85, were used to examine components of variability in measures of alcohol consumption. Multivariate biometric analyses of these data indicated 1) longitudinal stability of drinking behaviors in this cohort, 2) a significant contribution of genetic factors to the observed stability that accounted for more than 80% of the stable variation in frequency and in quantity of alcohol consumed per drinking occasion, and 3) evidence for a significant contribution of shared environmental influences to drinking of specific beverages (e.g., wine). The implications of these results for issues of health in the elderly are considered. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.