Success Rates on Quitting Linked to Smoker’s Genes


A new study suggests that there could be one’s genes could help him quit his nicotine addiction.

Researchers from the Washington University of Medicine at St. Louis examined data gathered from 6,000 smokers who participated in a clinical study that focused on a specific gene affecting a smoker’s ability to quit. It was noted that a typical gene variation that makes it difficult for smokers to stop smoking is also a factor to consider for heavy smokers to successfully quit their habit through nicotine-replacement therapies and other drugs.

quit smokingAccording to Dr. Li-Shiun Chen from the psychiatry department at the Washing University, high-risk genes found in some individuals played a significant role in their desire to quit smoking. “People with the high-risk genetic markers smoked an average of two years longer than those without these high-risk genes, and they were less likely to quit smoking without medication. The same gene variants can predict a person’s response to smoking-cessation medication, and those with the high-risk genes are more likely to respond to the medication.”

Results of the study published in the May 30 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that smokers who had the particular genes increased their chances of quitting through drugs and NRTs by up to three times more compared to those who don’t possess the genes. This could mean that there is now a way to determine the capability of a smoker to quit using drug treatment options through the presence or absence of the genes.

Senior investigator and psychiatry professor Dr. Laura Jean Bierut said that although the high-risk genes are not the only factors in identifying whether a smoker could make or break his nicotine habit, the findings can be very helpful in studying nicotine addiction treatment as a whole.

“These variants make a very modest contribution to the development of nicotine addiction, but they have a much greater effect on the response to treatment,” Bierut claimed. “That’s a huge finding.”

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