SOCIETY


How genes affect tobacco and alcohol use

Baku, February 22, AZERTAC

The use of alcohol and tobacco is closely linked to several diseases, and is a contributing factor in many deaths.

A recent study using data from 1.2 million people has now been published in the journal Nature Genetics. Several research groups around the world are involved, among them a group from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT) and the K.G. Jebsen Center for Genetic Epidemiology.

"We discovered several genes associated with an increased use of alcohol and tobacco. We also looked at the correlation between these genes and the risk of developing various diseases and disorders," says Professor Kristian Hveem at the HUNT Research Centre.

The research groups discovered a total of 566 gene variants at 406 different sites in the human genetic material that can be linked to the use of alcohol or tobacco. One hundred fifty of these sites are linked to the use of both tobacco and alcohol.

Alcohol consumption was measured in terms of the number of standard alcohol units. Tobacco use was measured in the number of cigarettes per day.

"The study group that was genetically predisposed to smoking was also genetically predisposed to a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, ADHD and various mental illnesses, whereas a genetic risk for alcohol was associated with lower disease risk. This does not imply that consuming more alcohol improves health, but indicates a mechanistic complexity that needs to be investigated further," Hveem says.

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