Study: Nicotine Addiction Caused By Bad Genes


News bulletin from the National Institute of Health: Genetics may play a role in addiction. No shit, Sherlock. Years of research has found nicotine, alcohol, cocaine and other drugs induce feelings of pleasure by causing dopamine to release in certain parts of the brain. Certain types of dopamine receptors are thought to be responsible for an individual’s response to drugs, including addiction. These variations are generally encoded by a gene on chromosome 11.

Now a group or researchers have confirmed that nicotine addiction can also be affected by variants of dopamine receptors also encoded by chromosome 11. Again, no shit. Did anyone really think nicotine addiction was completely different than alcohol or crack?

Anyway, the study, reported in the March 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, consisted of a group of lung cancer patients and a group of healthy control subjects. Researchers examined health information, including recent and prior tobacco use, to determine subjects’ degrees of nicotine addiction. They also reviewed subjects’ blood samples to search for dopamine receptor gene variants A1 and A2 or B1 and B2. Subjects who carried the B1 variant were most likely to have smoked at some point in their lives. In fact, 31 percent of those who had smoked at some point in their lives carried the B1 gene compared to none of the “never smokers.

Interesting stuff, but it still seems to just reinforce what we’ve understood for years. Genes play a big role in addiction. If mom and dad were addicts, you better watch your Ps and Qs with substances, because you have a good chance of getting hooked. Was a study tied specifically to nicotine really necessary? I think probably not. Makes you wonder how much tax money—in the form of grants—went into this one. Plus, do smokers really need another excuse to keep smoking? I can just hear it, “I can’t quit, I have bad genes, it’s hopeless…