Researchers at the University of Michigan found why smokers find it so hard to quit. According to their study, nicotine addiction is deeply ingrained in cigarette users’ genetic code.
The recently-discovered genetic mechanism is also responsible for the withdrawal effects that make kicking the habit such a big challenge.
Scientists found that several RNA molecules and genes play a huge role in the development of nicotine addiction and the other bodily reactions that prevent smokers quit.
In their study, scientists analyzed nicotine dependence in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, which tends to get just as hooked on nicotine as humans do. The team looked at withdrawal responses in the small animals, as well.
Genetic Mechanism Likely Behind Addiction
The group learned that a class of genes is behind a genetic mechanism that boosts the multiplication of the protein receptors responsible for nicotine. The team also found that tiny bits of DNA aka microRNAs were also involved in the process that ultimately leads to nicotine addiction.
Lead author Jianke Gong underlined that there is a “clear link” between the said genes, the proteins, and nicotine addiction. Paradoxically, past research had dismissed the mechanism as irrelevant in the development of nicotine dependence.
The latest findings appeared Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports.
Study authors firmly believe that the microRNAs and the genetic mechanism can explain nicotine dependence in humans. On the other hand, the team acknowledged that their findings are just a first step toward better understanding the cause for addiction in smokers.
According to a CDC report, smoking is the top cause for preventable disease in the nation. Around 480,000 deaths are linked to cigarette smoking every year, which means that one in five Americans die from a smoking-related disease.
Image Source: Defense.gov
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