Heritability of Smoking, Alcohol Use, and Psychological Characteristics Among Adolescent Twins in Qingdao, China

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Health Psychology | Medicine and Health Sciences | Multicultural Psychology | Public Health | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Background: Previous studies of genetic and environmental influences on adolescent substance use have been limited to Western samples. Methods: This study assesses genetic and environmental contributions to cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and psychological variables (depression, anxiety, aggression, hostility) among 602 pairs of adolescent twins, 11 to 19 years old, in Qingdao, China. Results: Heritable influences were more pronounced for alcohol use than cigarette smoking. In univariate analyses, no heritable effects were found for depression or aggression, and modest heritability was found for anxiety. Hostility was relatively more heritable in girls than boys. Bivariate associations between substance use and psychological measures could be attributed to a combination of common genetic and environmental factors. Conclusions: Among Chinese adolescents, experimentation with tobacco is familial, and experimentation with alcohol is heritable. The genetic and environmental architecture of hostility differs by gender. Consistency of univariate results with Western adolescent samples appears limited to the alcohol use measures.

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© 2011 Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health