Gene determines our smoking and drinking habits: Here’s what study shows

Though smoking and drinking behavours are mosly influenced by various environmental and social factors, a new study show that it might to be linked to our genes too. Study cited that that more than 3,500 genetic variations potentially affect such habit.

Since these habit can put your health at risk – from cardiovascular diseases and psychiatric disorders – knowing that genetical factor can influence such behaviours, now much can be done in trying to alter these habits.

“We’re at a stage where genetic discoveries are being translated into clinical [applications],” says study co-author Dajiang Liu, a statistical geneticist at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania as quoted by Nature magazine. “If we can forecast someone’s risk of developing nicotine or alcohol dependence using this information, we can intervene early and potentially prevent a lot of deaths.”

The study has mostly focused on European populations. For the research, the team constructed a model that incorporated the genomic data of 3,383,199 people, 21% of whom had non-European ancestry.

A total of 3,823 genetic variants have been identified that can influence smoking or drinking behaviours. A total of 39 genes are linked to the at what age you pick up your first cigarette; 243 genes are linked to how many cigarettes an you will smoke in one day; 849 genetic variants are lined with the number of alcoholic drinks consumed per week.

The researchers found that the majority of genetic associations for drinking and smoking have similar effects. “We also find similar heritability estimates [for the traits] across the ancestries … suggesting that generally, the genetic architecture of these behaviours is similar across ancestries,” Gretchen Saunders, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and co-author of the paper told the Nature

Another big influencer is the environmental factor across ancestries. “Epigenetic and environmental factors are really important to turn off and turn on the genes. So maybe it’s because of that reason, there aren’t many [significant] differences” adds Şehime Temel, who studies medical genetics at Bursa Uludağ University, Turkey.

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