other abstaining. Concordance is the co-occurrence of the behavior in the twin pair (e.g., both drinking or both not drinking). Overall concordance exceeded 85 percent, regardless of the twins' gender or zygosity.
There was extremely high familial aggregation for alcohol use or abstinence at age sixteen, additional evidence that genes play little role in abstinence or initiation. But thirty months later, individual abstinence had dropped to 10 percent, concordance among twin pairs had declined considerably, and genetic factors increasingly influenced the frequency and quantity of an adolescent's alcohol consumption. MZ twins were significantly more similar in drinking frequency than were DZ twins. The influence of genetic factors increases over time, with increasing experience with alcohol, and the differences between MZ and DZ twins becomes greater at each follow-up.
Regional residency moderates parental and sibling influences on adolescent drinking. Where abstinence is relatively rare, as in the large cities of Finland, siblings have greater effects on one another. Conversely, the protective effect of parental abstinence on that of their adolescent twin children was more evident in sparsely populated rural areas of the country, where abstinence was more prevalent. And, most interestingly, genetic factors exerted a larger role in urban settings than in rural settings from age 16 through the follow-up at age 18^2. Common environmental factors assumed greater importance in rural settings.
Such results suggest that environments moderate the impact of genetic effects across many dimensions of behavior. But what aspects of the environment matter? In an analysis of results at age I8V2, we demonstrated that specific characteristics of rural and urban environments moderate the effects of genes on drinking behavior. In areas with proportionately more young adults, genetic effects were nearly five times more evident than in communities with relatively few young adults. Thus, dramatic differences in the magnitude of genetic effects can be demonstrated across communities at environmental extremes of specific risk-relevant characteristics.
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