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Study Links Smoking Addiction to Gene Variant

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, August 11, 2008 7:59 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Protecting Your Family, Lung Cancer, Tobacco, Cigarette Smoking, Heart Attack



IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / quit smoking / author: RobHadfield 

Researchers at Michigan University have found a new gene that hugely increases a person’s risk of becoming addicted to tobacco after their first smoke.

The study involved 435 participants – some of who had tried a cigarette, but never developed a habit; while others had been smoking about five cigarettes a day or more for the past five years.

Researchers studied smoking histories and genetic data of each participant and found a genetic association between smoking addiction and a gene variant.

Researchers found the variant in the CHRNA5 nicotine receptor gene. Those people that have this variant likely experienced a positive first smoking experience.

Those who have this variant are going to have good first smoking experiences, said Ovide Pomerleau, of the University of Michigan Medical School.

Based on these study findings, researchers say that smoking that first cigarette can be a trap for some, as the person is likely to become addicted to smoking.

This study will help researchers to better understand the genetic factors that are involved in nicotine addiction and lung cancer.

Smoking is one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths in the US, claiming the lives of more than 500,000 people each year. About 90 percent of cigarette smokers become addicted before the age of 19 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study was published in the journal Addiction.

In another recent study by Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found tobacco companies used lower levels of menthol to hook teen smokers who preferred a milder brand, while using higher levels of menthol to hook lifelong adult smokers. #

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