Can DNA markers show how likely someone is to smoke?

Can DNA markers show how likely someone is to smoke?
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A new study has found multiple genetic variants, acting as DNA markers, indicating how heavy a person is likely to smoke.

DNA markers comprising of several genetic variants have been identified that can contribute to indicating how heavily a person is likely to smoke.

DNA markers and genetic variants

Professor Johan Håkon Bjørngaard, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) department of public health and nursing says: “Some people are genetically predisposed to smoke a little more than others.”

Although the genetic variants are no more common among smokers than non-smokers, people who start smoking and who have these genetic variants are prone to smoking more on average than people who do not have them.

One reason could be that the genetic variants change the effect of nicotine in the body.

Linking smoking to alcohol consumption

Professor Bjørn Olav Åsvold at the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT) and NTNU’s K.G. Jebsen Center for Genetic Epidemiology raised the question whether a person who is genetically predisposed to smoking more would also be prone to drinking more alcohol.

From this a research group from England, Denmark and Norway decided to find out by looking at the genes as an indicator of smoking behaviour.

From the separate research, the group found a correlation between the number of cigarettes people smoke and the number of alcoholic units they consume during a week. However, this does not come to be much of a surprise.

Moreover, the researchers found little evidence of a direct link between alcohol use and the genetic variants studied, in other words, the results do not indicate that there are DNA markers to show a correlation of smoking and alcohol consumption and that more smoking leads to more alcohol use.

The researchers concluded that previously reported connections between smoking and alcohol is unlikely have direct causal links.

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