European Americans with blue eyes have an increased rate of alcohol dependence, compared with those with dark brown eyes, a new study suggests.
The genetic components that determine eye color line up along the same chromosome as the genes related to excessive alcohol use, the researchers found.
The researchers say the findings could help scientists learn more about the roots of alcoholism, HealthDay reports.
The study appears in the American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics (Part B).
"This suggests an intriguing possibility that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis," study co-author Arvis Sulovari of the University of Vermont said in a news release.
More research is needed to understand the association between light-colored eyes and a greater incidence of alcoholism, the scientists said.
The findings come from an analysis of a genetic database of more than 10,000 people.
All of those represented in the database have at least one mental illness. Many have more than one, including depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, along with alcohol or drug dependence.