Genes play a role in lighting up
Reykjavik – Researchers from the Icelandic biotech company deCODE – together with colleagues from 23 institutions in a dozen countries – have determined that genetic factors influence both nicotine dependence and the incidence of lung cancer. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. The behaviour is a complex one, with variables ranging from how much people smoke to how hard they find it to quit. The impact of long-term smoking on health also varies greatly among individuals. A substantial portion of this variability is genetic, the researchers have now revealed. “Smoking is bad for anyone’s health. But it is even worse for some, and our discoveries continue to strengthen our ability to identify who those people are and give them a compelling additional reason to quit,” said Kári Stefánsson, Executive Chairman at deCODE. Two years ago, deCODE discovered the first common, single-letter variation (SNP) in the sequence of the human genome, on chromosome 15q25, to be associated with nicotine addiction and the risk of lung cancer. Now the scientists have stated that common SNPs on chromosomes 8p11 and 19q13 among smokers increase the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) – a measure of nicotine addiction – and indicate an increased risk of lung cancer. Published on April 25th in the online edition of Nature Genetics, the study analyses detailed genotypic and smoking data from more than 130,000 participants.