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Genes May Determine If Nicotine Gum, Patch Will Help You Quit

A cigarette, nearly broken in half, dangles from a woman's mouth.
(Image credit: <a href=''>Smoking photo</a> via Shutterstock)

Certain genes that predispose people to become addicted to nicotine might also make it easier to quit using nicotine-replacement therapies, a new study suggests.

People with the genetic variation smoked for two years longer, on average, than people with other versions of the genes. But people with the genes were also three times more likely to be helped by smoking-cessation medications such as nicotine gum or patches, the researchers found.

People lacking the genetic variation should try other means of quitting support, such as counseling, the researchers said.

"We've identified a group that’s responding to pharmacologic treatment, and a group that’s not responding, and that’s a key step in improving, and eventually tailoring treatments to help people quit smoking," said study author Dr. Laura Jean Bierut, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis.

The research was based on a clinical study of 1,000 people, as well as a survey of 5,000 people. Participants in the clinical study attempted to quit smokingwith the help of a medication, while the surveyed individuals reported what had helped them quit. Researchers matched successful attempts to quit with genetic information obtained by DNA tests.

Because the same genetic variation were linked both to addiction to cigarettesand ability to quit using nicotine-replacement therapies, these genes may be critical to understanding nicotine addiction, the researchers said, but more research must be done to understand the link.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death disease in the United States, killing 443,000 Americans annually. Smoking cigarettes causes lung cancerand other cancers, and also contributes to other lung diseases.

"This study is moving us closer to personalized medicine," said study author Dr. Li-Shiun Chen, assistant professor of psychiatry at the university.

The study was published May 30 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Pass it on: The same genes that might make it more likely you get addicted to cigarettes could help you kick the habit using nicotine-replacement meds.

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Live Science Staff
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