New research has recently identified a genetic variant that makes it more difficult for smokers to quit, and individuals who carry this mutation are more likely to sustain smoking habits than those who do not. The study, which has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also shows that individuals with this genetic variant are more likely to have lung cancer diagnosed at a younger age.
Researchers at the University of Washington, St. Louis School of Medicine analyzed data from 24 surveys of more than 29,000 European-speaking smokers who found that individuals with specific variations in the nicotine receptor gene, CHRNA5, did not carry the gene. Individuals who mutate are more likely to continue smoking for an average of 4 years after quitting smoking. Smokers with this genetic variation may also be diagnosed with lung cancer 4 years earlier than those who are not, and will smoke more deeply while smoking.
According to Dr. Li-Siun Chen, the author of the study, smokers who carry this risk variant have an average age of smoking cessation four years later than those who are not. Participants who did not carry this variation in the study stopped smoking on average at the age of 52, while individuals with risk-gene mutations quit on average at age 56.
Dr. Chen believes that this discovery has important clinical significance, because if an individual is found to have the above genetic variation, lung cancer screening can be prevented at an earlier age. She also mentioned that previous studies have found that individuals with this mutation are able to respond to drugs designed to help them quit smoking.
According to her, individuals with high-risk genes are also more likely to respond to nicotine replacement patches, smoking cessation sugar or smoking cessation chewing gum. Although it is clear that this gene increases the likelihood that an individual will develop lung cancer at a younger age, it is also certain that this risk can be reduced by quitting smoking.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer accounts for 27% of cancer deaths in the United States each year. It is currently the second most common cancer among the sexes except skin cancer.