Genetic marker may predict smoking quantity in African Americans

May 22, 2012

In a step toward understanding possible genetic differences in smoking behaviors, a team of researchers co-led by SRI International has identified a genetic marker associated with smoking quantity in people of African ancestry. The study's findings may help guide future public health decisions related to smoking, because the more people smoke, the higher their risk of lung cancer.

The genetic variant, called rs2036527, appears to function as a marker of smoking quantity in African Americans, predicting the number of cigarettes smoked per day. It is on the same nicotine receptor gene, located on , as another marker previously identified in people of European descent. Earlier studies have also shown that this gene plays a role in limiting nicotine intake by affecting how pleasurable nicotine is, which in turn affects how much nicotine is consumed.

Findings from the Study of Tobacco Use in (STOMP) Genetics Consortium study are published in the May 22, 2012 issue of Translational Psychiatry (part of Nature Publishing Group).

To find the genetic variants for smoking behavior, researchers combined 13 genome-wide association studies. The result included data for genetics and smoking behavior for more than 32,000 African Americans.

Although African Americans are less likely to smoke than European Americans, if they do start smoking, they tend to start smoking later in life, are less likely to quit smoking, and die more often from smoking-related lung cancer. Smoking is the leading cause of premature death among African Americans. STOMP investigators did not assess lung cancer risk, but other researchers have found that the (rs2036527) is associated with risk of lung cancer in African Americans.

"This study may have implications for personalized medicine and the need to identify targets for drug discovery." said Sean P. David, M.D., D.Phil., research physician and director of the Translational Medicine program in the Center for Health Sciences in SRI's Policy Division and also a family medicine physician and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. "However, we need to be careful not to draw conclusions about the degree to which a genetic variant associated with smoking quantity affects smoker's ability to quit. Future studies of smoking behavior, including smoking cessation clinical trials, should be performed in non-European ancestry groups, so that other informative biomarkers aren't missed."

Explore further: Gene combination increases risk of lung cancer, particularly in light smokers, study finds

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Tough times make for more impulsive pre-teens

June 23, 2017

The loss of a grandparent. Marital discord at home. Trouble with peers. When pre-teens are forced to deal with adverse life events such as these they tend to become more impulsive in their decision-making later in life. And ...

Following a friend leads to unsafe driving behavior

June 23, 2017

Have you ever tried following a friend in a car? It can stressful; if you don't keep up, you are likely to get lost. To avoid this, you may make unsafe driving manoeuvres to keep sight of the car ahead.

Video games can change your brain

June 22, 2017

Scientists have collected and summarized studies looking at how video games can shape our brains and behavior. Research to date suggests that playing video games can change the brain regions responsible for attention and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.