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Swedes help find genetic link to men's relationship problems

Swedes help find genetic link to men's relationship problems

Published: 02 Sep 2008 09:44 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Sep 2008 09:44 GMT+02:00

A team of researchers from Sweden and the United States claim to have uncovered a genetic link to help explain the cause of broken relationships between men and women.

According to a new study, some men carry a specific genetic variation that makes it harder for them to form lasting bonds with women.

“It’s not necessarily the case that they are less capable of love. Rather it’s probably about a reduction of their social competence,” said Hasse Walum, a researcher from Karolinska Institutet.

Walum is one of the lead researchers of the study conducted by several institutions in Sweden and the United States, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings are based in large part on genetic information gathered from about 550 pairs of Swedish twins and their partners, for a total of about 1,000 men and an equal number of women.

Researched examined a specific gene, AVPR1A, as well as codes for receptors of vasopressin, a hormone found in the brain which affects behaviour related to forming bonds and building relationships.

Walum and his colleagues discovered that men, but not women, which have one or two copies of a specific variation of the gene, have twice as high a risk for encountering problems in their relationships or marriages.

“I want to emphasize that men who carry this allele are not doomed to failure in their relationships. The effect is relatively modest. But the risks are greater than for other men. It’s possible that they are also more prone to infidelity,” said Walum.

The question now is whether men would be interested in undergoing testing for the genetic variation, known as allele 334.

It’s possible that some men would love to be able to say to their significant other, “I may be a bad partner, but there’s nothing I can do about it because I have allele 334”.

“Many would probably try to do that. But it’s not that simple in reality,” said Walum.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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