Smoking Addiction-Could it be your Genes?



Smoking Addiction-Could it be your Genes?

US News.com reported that three seperate teams of scientists have narrowed down that smoking addiction and lung cancer could be connected to certain genes. This discovery could mean screening that would help with the success of people who have been trying to quit, but seem to lack the ability. This explains why some smokers continue to smoke even after being diagnosed with cancer or are on oxygen. They just can’t stop.

The scientists studied the genes of more than 35,000 white people of European descent in Europe, Canada and the United States. Blacks and Asians will be studied soon and may yield different results, scientists said.

They aren’t quite sure if what they found is a set of variations in one gene or in three closely connected genes.

The gene variations, which govern nicotine receptors on cells, could eventually help explain some of the mysteries of chain smoking, nicotine addiction and lung cancer. These oddities include why there are 90-year-old smokers who don’t get cancer and people who light up an occasional cigarette and don’t get hooked.

“This is really telling us that the vulnerability to smoking and how much you smoke is clearly biologically based,” said psychiatry professor Dr. Laura Bierut of Washington University in St. Louis, a genetics and smoking expert who did not take part in the studies. She praised the research as “very intriguing.”

The smoking rate among U.S. adults has dropped from 42 percent in 1965 to less than 21 percent now.

The new studies are surprising in that they point to areas of the genetic code that are not associated with pleasure and the rewards of addiction.

That may help explain why some people can quit and others fail, said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Md., which funded one of the studies.

“It opens our eyes,” Volkow said Wednesday. “Not everyone takes drugs for the same reason. Not everyone smokes cigarettes for the same reasons.”

One clue is in the location of the just-discovered variants, on the long arm of chromosome 15, Volkow said. It is in an area that, when damaged during tests on animals, makes them depressed and anxious. While some people smoke because it helps them focus or gives them a physiological reward, others do it to stave off depression.

That suggests that adding antidepressants to some smokers’ treatment could help them kick the habit.

Being on antidepressants isn’t always a cure all. My history with quitting smoking is I get so depressed I cannot stop crying. The depression is so great that even on antidepressants, it cannot be over come. This is what I am working on now.

Taking Chantix once a day seems to keep the depression away. When I go off the Chantix, after five days, I am so depressed that I cannot work, I cry, and want to quit my job or other erratic behavior. This has nothing to do with the Chantix. Every time I have quit before with the patch, when I cut down to the lower level of nicotine, the exact same thing happened to me. Identical behavior, I couldn’t stop crying, etc.

So I am convinced that depression is why I smoked and why I have such a hard time stopping. I will be going to see my Doctor on April 30th. He is the one that prescribes my antidepressant, Lexapro (I am taking the highest dose possible), and my Chantix. I am anxious to see what he has to say about it. Last time he said to just stay on the Chantix for at least a year. It is better than smoking. I have to agree with him. I am functioning great and it has been 106 days smoke free. Why mess with it by trying to get off Chantix? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’m not sure how safe it is to stay on Chantix forever, but for now I am doing great.

This study is exciting and I hope it will develop into something like an easy screen test to see if you have the “genes” to become addicted to smoking. My son is 23 and he smokes all the time. It makes sense to me that he is predisposed to this addiction. Just like Alcoholism. It’s is a family disease, now we know, smoking is too.

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