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Gene Variation May Impact Smoking Cessation Efforts

Researcher suggests a change in screening policies

MONDAY, April 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A gene variation associated with smoking longer and getting lung cancer at a younger age has been identified by researchers. The study was published in the May issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

This new study supports the idea of using genetic information to target people who might not be screened otherwise, according to first author Li-Shiun Chen, M.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The researchers analyzed 24 studies that included 29,072 smokers of European ancestry. The authors found that people with a certain variation in a nicotine receptor gene called CHRNA5 were more likely to keep smoking for four years after those without the variation had quit. The average age that people quit was 52 among those without the variation and 56 among those with the variation.

People with the variation in the CHRNA5 gene also inhaled deeper when they smoked and had a higher risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer four years earlier than those without the variation. The average age of diagnosis was 61 among those with the variation and 65 for those without the variation. The findings suggest that people with the variation should undergo lung cancer screening at a younger age, Chen said in a university news release.

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