A new genetic test could reveal an individual’s susceptibility to a gambling disorder


Studies have shown that our genes may be responsible for up to 70% of gambling behavior. Now a new genetic test can identify people who are most predisposed to engaging in gambling.

About 90% of Britons have experienced flutter at least once in their lives, whether it’s five times at the Grand National or pounds on the fruit machine. However, for some people, placing a bet gradually becomes more than an occasional thrill and, instead, becomes a behavioral change that develops into an addiction.

About 2% of people are unable to stop gambling activities that result in harm to themselves, their social network or community. Gambling disorder is a form of behavioral addiction with severe consequences. It is now believed that up to 70% of our gambling behavior can be due entirely to our genetic makeup, rather than a response to the excitement of the moment.

Leading testing expert, Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), clinical lead at the London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘Recent changes to gaming laws will help people who lose a lot of money in a short time, but more work needs to be done. to address this problem. It is important not only to examine this from a legal perspective but to understand the factors that lead people to develop a gambling disorder. This includes examining patterns in our genes that show interesting connections to our behaviors, traits, and even sensitivities.

Gambling disorder occurs when a repetitive pattern of gambling behavior that, despite negative consequences, takes precedence over other daily activities. This can lead to a feeling of losing control.

Gambling disorder appears to be primarily an impulse control disorder, with symptoms somewhat similar to substance abuse problems. Studies indicate a potentially strong genetic influence on the development of gambling behaviours. In fact, a remarkable study of identical and non-identical twins, published in the journal Addiction, found that genetic factors were responsible for nearly 70% of the difference in gambling behavior. In other words, explain why some of us can take the occasional flutter and then forget all about it, while others become compulsive gamblers. In fact, the study found that 85% of adult male gambling behavior is likely influenced by their genes.

Easily available genetic tests, such as the London Medical Laboratory’s new DNA profile test, now not only provide fascinating information about our ancestry and the potential effect of certain drugs on us, but they also reveal a possible possibility for a gambling disorder.

They work by identifying differences in those genes responsible for parts of our actions and behaviour. For example, how well does our body process serotonin? Serotonin in your brain regulates your mood. It is sometimes called your body’s natural “feel good” chemical. When serotonin is in normal levels, you feel more focused, more stable, and happier. However, variations in one gene, HTR2A, are associated with susceptibility to mood disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They also affect nerve cell activity, cognition, perception, and mood. All are likely to influence gambling disorder behavior, directly or indirectly.

Another specific gene is now also believed to play an important role in gambling disorder: CNR1. A 2018 study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience asked the following question:Are we betting on ourselves or has our DNA already made the decision for us? He looked at a variant in the CNR1 gene called “rs1049353” and found that it had an effect on addictive behavior and reward processing. The paper found that people with this variant placed much larger bets than those without it. His findings suggest that, To some extent, high-level decision making, even betting placement, can be affected by a single genetic change.

Anyone who discovers that their genotype indicates that they may have inherited a predisposition to indulging in gambling activities can take active steps to help reduce the risk. In fact, recognizing our vulnerability to gambling can help us take preventive action. For example, easy access to gambling activities in general tends to increase its prevalence, so it is best to avoid those places where gambling is easier and those sites and apps where placing a bet can become problematic. It’s also important to continue to proactively pursue other activities, such as reviving old hobbies. GambleAware provides more helpful information and has a 24/7 helpline. “

Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), Clinical Lead, London Medical Laboratory

Genes do not absolutely determine a predisposition to gambling. Environmental factors, such as family and sociocultural influences, and psychosocial factors, including personality traits, cognition, and emotional state, also play major roles. These factors interact with genetic factors to shape the gambling behavior of the individual. Genetics is only one piece of the puzzle, but it is an important one.

The London Medical Laboratory’s new DNA genotype profile test is a simple, at home, saliva test kit. This once-in-a-lifetime test delivers over 300 reports: providing insights into nutrition, traits (such as potential addiction or gambling), fitness, and health from our genetic blueprint. A single saliva sample allows each of us to learn more about ourselves, so we can make better decisions for a healthier future.

The saliva test can be taken at home by post, or at one of the many clinics offering these tests across London and nationwide at over 95 selected pharmacies and health stores.


Journal reference:

Chen, H.; et al. (2018). Can your DNA influence your betting position? Effect of the cannabinoid receptor 1 gene on gambling tasks. Frontiers in human neuroscience. doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00458.


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