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Wednesday, January 21, 1998 Published at 10:15 GMT


Born to lose
image: [ One will pick the winning lottery numbers - the other will do the same but forget to buy a ticket ]
One will pick the winning lottery numbers - the other will do the same but forget to buy a ticket

Failed to get that promotion? Accidentally burnt your winning lottery ticket? Unable to find true love? Well, it may not be your fault - you could, quite literally, be a born loser.

According to new research, luck may be inherited. So those who lurch uncontrollably on a path riddled with disaster may simply be victims of their family's unlucky genes.

Professor Peter McGuffin "Major and minor mishaps happen more frequently to "unlucky" people" (Dur:1'57")
Professor McGuffin and his team at the University of Wales's College of Medicine were looking for a genetic link to depression in twins and siblings when they stumbled on the connection.

The researchers found that not only is depression inherited, but so, apparently, are "adverse life events" meaning that major and minor mishaps happen more frequently to "unlucky" people.

There are two trains of thought on the discovery. It has been suggested that some people may be genetically disposed to view the world in a gloomy way - always looking on the bad side of things.

Others believe that some individuals may have a genetic tendency to "create mayhem" around them. These unfortunates are therefore destined to plough through life unaware that they generate the calamities that surround them.

Presenting his findings at the Royal College of Psychiatrists meeting in London, Professor McGuffin said he was surprised by the discovery.

"Even though we were looking at what psychologists call independent life events - things you wouldn't think people could influence - relatives of depressed people had more of these events than people in the general population.

"They covered the whole range, from very unpleasant things like a close relative dying to things like losing your job, being involved in a motor accident or being mugged.

"Most of the adverse events were not serious, like bereavement, but everyday events to do with disharmony in relationships and work."

So, the next time things seem to be heading uncontrollably in a downward spiral - you know who to blame.

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Internet Links

School of Molecular and Medical Bioscience at Cardiff University

The Human Genome Project at the Sanger Centre

Institute of Medical Genetics in Cardiff

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