Nicotine dependence linked to DNA

March 29, 2013 / Science Media Centre (New Zealand) / – Your DNA may play a significant role in determining whether or not you end up a smoker – and how easy you find it to kick the habit.

Many large studies have identified particular gene variants that are more common in smokers than other people, suggesting they play a role in nicotine dependence.

Now an international team of researchers have used these genetic clues develop a ‘genetic risk profile’, and to see how accurate it is, they have road-tested it on the on a well-known sample of Kiwis: the Dunedin Birth Cohort.

Researchers analysed data from the long-term study of 1,000 New Zealanders to identify whether individuals at high genetic risk got hooked on cigarettes more quickly as teens and whether, as adults, they had a harder time quitting.

The results, published in JAMA Psychiatry, showed that a person’s genetic risk profile did not predict whether he or she would try cigarettes. But for those who did try cigarettes, having a high-risk genetic profile predicted increased likelihood of heavy smoking and nicotine dependence.