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Inverse association of the obesity predisposing FTO rs9939609 genotype with alcohol consumption and risk for alcohol dependence


Rafal Ploski, Department of Medical Genetics, Medical University of Warsaw, ul. Pawinskiego 3c, 01-106 Warsaw, Poland. E-mail:


Aims  To investigate whether the FTO rs9939609 A allele (a risk factor for obesity) is associated with measures of alcohol consumption.

Design  Population-based cross-sectional study and two case–control studies.

Setting  Poland and the Warsaw area.

Participants  A total of 6584 subjects from the WOBASZ survey and two cohorts of alcohol-dependent patients (n = 145 and n = 148).

Measurements  Questionnaire data analysis, rs9939609 typing.

Findings   Among individuals drinking alcohol, the obesity-associated AA genotype was also associated with lower total ethanol consumption [sex-, age- and body mass index (BMI)-adjusted difference: 0.21 g/day, P = 0.012] and distinct drinking habits with relatively low frequency of drinks but larger volume consumed at a time as evidenced by (i) association between AA and frequency/amount of typical drinks (P = 0.023, multiple logistic regression analysis); (ii) inverse correlation between AA and drink frequency adjusted for drink size (P = 0.007 for distilled spirits, P = 0.018 for beer); (iii) decreased frequency of AA [odds ratio (OR) = 0.46, P = 0.0004] among those who drank small amounts of distilled spirits (≤100 ml at a time) but frequently (≥1–2 times/week). A decrease of AA was also found in both cohorts of alcohol-dependent patients versus geographically matched subjects from WOBASZ yielding a pooled estimate of OR = 0.59, confidence interval (CI): 0.40–0.88, P = 0.008. Exploratory analysis showed that those with rs9939609 AA reported lower (by 1.22) mean number of cigarettes/day during a year of most intense smoking (P = 0.003) and were older at start of smoking by 0.44 years (P = 0.016).

Conclusions  The FTO AA genotype, independently from its effect on BMI, is associated with measures of ethanol consumption and possibly tobacco smoking.

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