The story appears on

Page A10

October 31, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » World

DNA is a key to compulsive hoarding

PEOPLE with a compulsive urge to collect and clutter their homes with junk can partly blame their genes, a British study says.

Researchers from King's College London used a study of twins to find that genetic predisposition explained a large amount of the risk for compulsive hoarding.

That's a mental health problem in which people have an overwhelming desire to accumulate useless things like old newspapers or junk mail.

Of the more than 5,000 twins in the study, roughly 2 percent showed symptoms of compulsive hoarding, and genes appeared to account for half of the variance in risk.

Researcher Dr. David Mataix-Cols said it has long been known that compulsive hoarding tends to run in families. But he said it hasn't been clear whether that pattern is due to genes or to something in the home environment, like parenting practices.

Mataix-Cols and his colleagues found that among female identical twins, who share all their DNA, when one twin showed compulsive hoarding symptoms, the other also did 52 percent of the time. Among fraternal twins, who share roughly half their genes, that figure was 27 percent.

There was no evidence that environmental factors shared by twins contributed to compulsive hoarding.

Past research has shown that many people with hoarding problems have a history of traumatic events, according to Mataix-Cols. In particular, they have elevated rates of sexual abuse and "loss" - of a loved one or a home, for instance.

"What the study suggests is that genes are important, but probably some environmental stressors are needed to cause or trigger the hoarding problem," said Mataix-Cols.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend