Basic Human Body Dimensions Relate to Alcohol Dependence and Predict Hospital Readmission
Alcohol dependence is a severe mental illness and there is a need for more effective preventive and therapeutic strategies. Translational research suggests that intrauterine sex hormone exposure modulates the risk and course of alcohol dependence during adulthood. During development, sex hormones permanently shape sexually dimorphic body dimensions. Thus, these dimensions may provide insight into sex hormone organization. Here, we compared body measurements (absolute, relative to, and residualized on height) between 200 alcohol-dependent in-patients and 240 age-matched healthy control subjects and investigated how these measurements associate with the patients’ prospective 12- and 24-month outcome. The results show that alcohol dependence is related to lower absolute, relative, and residualized body measurements for height and weight, head circumference, bitragion head arc, lip-chin distance, hip, thigh, and calf circumference, and foot length and breadth. In male alcohol-dependent in-patients, higher risk, shorter latency, and more alcohol-related readmissions were predicted by higher absolute, relative, and residualized thigh and calf circumferences. The second-to-fourth finger length ratio, a putative proxy for prenatal sex hormone organization, was not convincingly correlated with the body dimensions, suggesting that the results represent pubertal (or later) effects. The study’s findings have implications for further research. The body measurements’ high accessibility may facilitate the future transition into clinical settings.