Smokers with a specific genetic variation are more likely to keep smoking longer than those who dont have the gene variant. Theyre also more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer at a younger age, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
SMOKERS WITH A SPECIFIC GENE VARIANT ARE LIKELY TO KEEP SMOKING LONGER THAN THOSE WHO DONT HAVE THE GENE. RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS LED A STUDY THAT ALSO FOUND THAT THOSE WHO HAVE THE GENE VARIANT AND SMOKE ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH LUNG CANCER AT A YOUNGER AGE. JIM DRYDEN REPORTS
THE RESEARCH TEAM, LED BY GENETICS AND ADDICTION RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS, ANALYZED DATA GATHERED FROM MORE THAN 29 THOUSAND SMOKERS OF EUROPEAN DESCENT WHO HAD PARTICIPATED IN 24 STUDIES. THEY FOUND THAT WHEN SMOKERS HAD A PARTICULAR VARIATION IN A NICOTINE RECEPTOR GENE, THEY WERE LIKELY TO HAVE A HARDER TIME QUITTING. THE RESEARCHERS REACHED THAT CONCLUSION BECAUSE PEOPLE WITH THE GENE VARIANT WERE ABOUT FOUR YEARS OLDER WHEN THEY QUIT SMOKING, AVERAGING 56 RATHER THAN THE 52 YEARS OLD THAT WAS TYPICAL FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT THE GENE VARIANT. THE STUDYS FIRST AUTHOR, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER LI-SHIUN CHEN, SAYS THEY ALSO WERE, ON AVERAGE, LIKELY TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH LUNG CANCER AT A YOUNGER AGE.
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People with risk variants are diagnosed with lung cancer
four years sooner. This is a difference between age 61
versus age 65 for high- versus low-risk people.
AND CONSIDERING HOW COMMON, AND HOW DEADLY, LUNG CANCER IS, BEING FOUR YEARS YOUNGER AT THE TIME OF DIAGNOSIS IS A BIG DEAL.
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And this is important because lung cancer is the most
common cancer in the United States and worldwide. Half
of them die within a year of diagnosis, and only one in
six survived at five years. So an earlier diagnosis of
lung cancer, by four years, is really life changing.
CHEN SAYS IT APPEARS GENETICS AND PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR COOPERATE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THAT EARLY CANCER DIAGNOSIS AND MORE DIFFICULTY QUITTING.
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The risk gene will make a person smoke more, inhale
deeper and also quit later. So longer duration in
smoking, harder time in quitting and inhaling deeper
really combine and cause an acceleration of lung cancer.
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT PEOPLE WITH THE SAME GENE VARIANT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO RISK ALSO ARE MORE LIKELY TO RESPOND TO DRUG THERAPIES DESIGNED TO HELP THEM QUIT SMOKING.
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The same people with high-risk genes are more likely to get
lung cancer early, but theyre also more likely to respond
to smoking-cessation medications, such as nicotine-replacement
patches or lozenges of gum. Even though it does increase a
persons risk for lung cancer earlier, but it also this risk
can be reversed with treatments.
SO CHEN SAYS THE CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE NEW FINDINGS ARE SUBSTANTIAL. SHE SAYS CURRENT SCREENING METHODS DONT TAKE THESE RISKS INTO ACCOUNT, AND SHE SAYS THESE FINDING SUGGEST THAT WHEN SCREENING FOR CANCER, DOCTORS MAY DO WELL TO CONSIDER MORE THAN JUST THE PATIENTS AGE AND THE AMOUNT THEY SMOKE.
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So the problem with the current screening criteria is that
it doesnt precisely pick up people who are at increase risk.
So adding the genetic information to the screening criteria
will help us to really focus our resources in screening on
people who are truly at high risk of getting lung cancer.
THE STUDY IS PUBLISHED IN THE JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE. IM JIM DRYDEN…