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A finding earlier this year that alcoholism may be caused by a single gene has come under question by government researchers.

The new study did not rule out the possibility that alcoholism is genetically caused, at least in part. But the study said the gene in question is probably not especially linked to the disease, said Dr. David Goldman of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

A study published in April found the gene -- called the dopamine D2 receptor gene -- in 69 percent of severe alcoholics studied, but in only 20 percent of the non-alcoholics.

Goldman's research team found the gene present in 38 percent of the alcoholics studied and in 30 percent of people chosen at random, casting doubt on the earlier report, according to a study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

A co-leader of the earlier study said Monday he stands by its findings.

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