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April 26th, 2010
02:41 PM ET

Genes may influence how much you smoke

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

New research suggests that  smoking habits may have genetic influences. Although the effect is subtle, the findings highlight that genes are important in influencing cigarette consumption, said Helena Furberg, assistant professor of genetics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, one of the authors.

Three new studies collectively looked at data from more than 140,000 people who had some measure of smoking behavior. They found genetic regions associated with the quantity of cigarettes that people smoke daily. The research appeared in the online version of the journal Nature Genetics.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina, Oxford University and the Icelandic company deCODE conducted the studies.

A single-letter variation in the sequence of the human genome was previously found to be associated with nicotine addiction and risk of lung cancer. Scientists found this on chromosome 15, an area that harbors three nicotine receptor genes. This area also figured prominently in the new smoking analysis.

The individuals studied all had European ancestry, but researchers are going to expand their study to people of African and Hispanic origin, Furberg said.

These genetic associations are not deterministic, she said. If someone has these genetic variations, that does not mean he or she will smoke, or have a hard time quitting. And the idea of genetic personalization may be far off.

"At this point, if you’re trying to quit smoking, don’t wait until we have personalized therapy," she said.

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. DAS

    Why dont you ever talk about the REAL KILLER DR ? Alcohol,Yes ALCOHOL is the REAL KILLER ,you know why ? Its taxed way less than CIGARETTES,And It Costs the USA 175 Billion A Year just for its USE to SOCIETY,Now with that in Mind,would you like SOME FACTS about BOOZE ??????? If so Let me Know.....And Secondly Passive SMOKE IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE,I see that Even the MEDICAL experts SAY ALCOHOL is GOOD FOR YOU...That too is a LIE,ALCOHOL IS A POISON....beer only pays .42cents a Gallon Tax,and does,yes does 1000 Times the DAMAGES in the USA in DISEASES and Deaths to OTHERS.......Thank You DR GUPTA

    April 26, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Artsee

    It's about time someone did a study on people like me who may smoke only occasionally or perhaps have only one or two cigarettes a day and are able to stop and start at will while others have such a difficult time with breaking the habit.

    I know that I've never been addicted to nicotine even if there have been days or even weeks when I have smoked every day, and I just recently realized that I haven't had a cigarette since last Memorial Day. No effort to quit, no realization that I wasn't smoking, and I have a pack in my freezer should I feel like having one.

    Nice to know it's genetic.

    April 28, 2010 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chelsea

    First, what in the world is not a killer? Many things that cause death among the entire world. You cannot blame alcohol completely for its harmful effects, when there are such things called microbacteriums, war, murders, suicide and many other factors that cause death to the human race on a daily bases.

    Secondly, why say that secondhand smoke is NOT harmful to others when a new born baby is living in a house full of chain smokers? I thought it might have somthing to do with asthma and not being able to breath. Also, alcohol (a glass of wine with dinner) is okay, if used responsibly and in moderation, but who does that in the U.S.?

    Thirdly, know the facts before exsesivly using capital letters while trying to get the point accross to a DR. who had many years of schooling and research.

    Thanks,

    Chelsea

    April 29, 2010 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mike

    Sorry, I don't buy this

    Genes are important, yes. But genetics influencing how much you smoke? Garbage and quackery.

    Our genome is what makes us human; our epi-genome changes in response to our environment and our actions. To insinuate that some people are cursed to smoke more than others because they were born that way is completely irresponsible in my mind.

    Before you know it, that'll be another reason to raise health insurance premiums. This isn't science, its quacked up hocus-pocus by wizards in white coats and stethoscopes instead of pointy hats

    May 1, 2010 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.