December 17, 2008
Nicotine addiction and genetics
At various times of my life, I have smoked cigarettes. I wouldn't classify myself as a smoker, though. I started smoking in 2000, aged 32, then gave it up in early 2001, took it up again in early 2007 and now have given it up again. I don't find it especially difficult not to smoke - mostly, it's the fun of having something to fiddle with and the illicit pleasure of playing with fire, and watching the blue smoke curl lazily through sunlight that I find appealing, rather than any psychopharmacological aspect. However, some people I know - my mother and my ex-girlfriend - are serious smokers. Around two boxes per day. And apparently, as with all these things, there is a genetic basis for it. A liver enzymes known as CYP2A6 is responsible for metabolizing the bulk of nicotine to the inactive metabolite cotinine. However, people with defective copies of the gene which expresses CYP2A6 are significantly less likely to become nicotine addicted (see here and here for details). I would be very interested to find out whether I have the defective gene ...
Posted by daen at December 17, 2008 03:28 AM
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