More years in education linked to lower risk of alcohol dependence.
Spending years in education not only adds to one's wisdom and knowledge but might have an impact on an individual's drinking behaviour.
It may also reduce their risk of alcohol dependence, according to a study published in Molecular Psychiatry.
To assess the possible effects of educational attainment on alcohol use behaviours and alcohol dependence, a team of researchers used two-sample Mendelian randomisation statistical methods.
They used genetic data generated by international genomics consortiums and examined a set of 53 genetic variants previously associated with differences in educational attainment, and their links with certain alcohol use behaviours.
They tested which of the 53 variants associated with educational attainment in one study were present in the DNA of people who reported different alcohol use behaviours in the other study.
Dr Falk Lohoff, the corresponding author of the study said, "Using data from a total of approximately 780,000 study participants, we found that genetic variants associated with an additional 3.61 years of schooling were associated with an approximately 50 per cent reduced risk of alcohol dependence."
"The presence of genetic variants associated with educational attainment also affected the pattern of alcohol use and type of alcoholic beverage people consumed," Lohoff added.
The authors showed that genetic variants associated with higher educational attainment were not associated with the total amount of alcohol people drank in a week, but with a reduced frequency of binge drinking (consuming six or more units of alcohol per session), frequency of memory loss due to drinking, total drinks consumed per drinking day and weekly intake of distilled spirits, beer and cider.
The association with drinking fewer spirits was more pronounced in women than it was in men, while decreased average weekly beer plus cider intake was more pronounced in men than women.
Genetic variants associated with increased educational attainment were also associated with more frequent drinking in both men and women, with drinking alcohol with meals, especially in men, and with higher consumption of wine.
"It is important to understand that while these genetic variants allow us to investigate the possible effect of educational attainment on alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence, this doesn't mean that educational attainment can't be modified," said Lohhoff.