The study confirmed the presence of a genetic predisposition to smoking


The serious negative consequences of smoking became apparent already in the early 1960s. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, smoking prevalence began to fall and decreased by almost three times. At the end of the 80s, the dynamics of the decline decreased, after which the number of smokers in the world stabilized. Scientists began to be interested in the pattern of smoking addiction in certain groups of people, which gave rise to the assumption of a genetic predisposition to smoking.

As Professor Imyanitov explained, people have about 22 thousand genes, with each gene having several variations, and the huge number of their combinations is the reason for genetic diversity and the dissimilarity of people from each other. Combinations of different genes also influence biochemical processes that are involved in the emergence of various addictions.

“Nicotine, which enters the body through smoking, releases dopamine, a stimulator of the reward center in the brain,” the professor added. — From a genetic point of view, the rate of synthesis, breakdown and duration of action of dopamine varies from person to person. Thus, depending on the characteristics of dopamine receptors, different people have different predispositions to smoking, as well as to some other addictions.”

To confirm or refute this hypothesis, scientists led by Evgeniy Imyanitov conducted a study in which 1,230 people took part. There were four groups of people in total:

  1. never smoked or even tried smoking (147 people),
  2. non-smokers who have tried smoking (267 people),
  3. smokers (570 people),
  4. former smokers (246 people).

Scientists decided to proceed from the hypothesis that non-smokers are different. “In other words, someone doesn’t even try smoking because it’s not interesting to them,” explained Imenitov. — Others tried smoking, but they did not become addicted. But even between these two groups there may also be a difference. This is why we assumed that some people have an increased predisposition to smoking and other bad habits that release dopamine.”

The results of the study confirmed this hypothesis, the professor stated. Genetics does influence the interest in starting to smoke for the purpose of obtaining dopamine and the transition from occasional smoking to regular smoking – in the form of a habit.

“Today, smokeless tobacco products have appeared on the market and are at the center of debate in the scientific community as an effective tool in smoker harm reduction strategies,” said the geneticist. “It is not always subject to justified criticism, since many experts ignore the biochemical causes of addiction.”

According to Evgeniy Imyanitov, smokeless nicotine-containing products cannot be equated with traditional cigarettes. This approach, in the absence of any information about the possibilities of switching to less harmful alternatives for the consumer, an adult smoker with a serious tobacco addiction, actually creates priority conditions for the spread and cultivation of traditional tobacco smoking. And this clearly contradicts the stated goals of the World Health Organization (WHO) and common sense, the expert believes.

Meanwhile, many scientists are convinced that scientific research in the field of reducing harm from smoking should continue. Progress in studying the genetic nature of the development of tobacco dependence may provide new, even more effective tools for combating smoking.



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