Have you ever wondered why some seniors reach their 80s or 90s without a symptom of lung disease despite a lifetime of smoking? A U.K. research team claims that they may have found an explanation. But the findings do not entitle you to use those lifetime smokers ’ example as an argument to defend your habit.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham and University of Leicester found a rare set of genes that are not found in most of the population, which may be responsible for some lifelong smokers’ perfect lung health despite their old age.
Study authors now hope that their findings may help medical research to find revolutionary treatments to lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Researchers also say that they found which genes are responsible for tobacco addiction, so the recent research may also help scientists worldwide find new methods of helping people quit smoking.
Ian Hall, lead author of the study and medical researcher at University of Nottingham in the U.K., argued that there is a set of genes that shield some people’s lungs from emphysema, bronchitis and lung cancers despite external factors including smoking.
The team also found that some genetic traits make some people more prone to develop COPD such as chronic bronchitis despite them being non-smokers for their entire lives.
But Prof. Tobin said that the study’s results should not encourage people become chain-smokers, hoping that they do too have the lucky genes. He explained that COPD is tied to smoking and often smokers develop the condition. But the genes do play a key role in lung disease.
During their research, scientists analyzed the DNA data on more than 50,000 adults with ages ranging from 46 to 69. The data were taken from a large bank that has been storing genetic material and stem cells from participants for more than four years.
Study authors picked only participants that stored DNA material coming from their lungs and filed a questionnaire over their smoking habits. The team found that five genetic variants appeared in almost all heavy smokers, so cigarette addiction may also have some genetic underpinnings.
The Variants altered brain’s response to nicotine, the team explained, yet more research needs to be done to find their true role. But if the DNA bits really affect the odds of a person to become a heavy smoker, new smoke-cessation treatments may be on their way.
The study was first unveiled at the annual conference of the European Respiratory Society in the Netherlands, and was laer published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
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