Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Jefferson Scientist Hopes To Answer The Question, "Why Is It So Hard To Quit Smoking?"

Date:
August 18, 1999
Source:
Jefferson Medical College
Summary:
Frank Leone, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, is trying to figure out why some people can "go cold turkey" on cigarettes and nicotine, while others remain slaves to their addiction.

Researchers are delving into the genetics of nicotine addiction for answers

Related Articles


Some people would never think of trying to quit smoking. The daily routine of reaching for a cigarette after morning coffee is too ingrained. Grabbing a smoke after lunch, or after a hard day at the office – there’s nothing quite like a cool long drag, and the expected nicotine buzz. You can quit anytime you like.

For many, however, quitting smoking is next to impossible.

Frank Leone, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, is trying to figure out why some people can "go cold turkey" on cigarettes and nicotine, while others remain slaves to their addiction.

The reasons are many and complex. One of the most intriguing theories says that nicotine addiction is due to a combination of both environmental influences and factors hard-wired into the brain. Some people are simply genetically more susceptible than others to become addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes.

Dr. Leone is using a standard scientific tool, the clinical trial, to attempt to tease out the subtleties of nicotine addiction, and in particular, the potential genetic influence involved in these individual differences. He and his colleagues are looking for 800 pairs of siblings who smoke at least one pack of cigarettes a day and who are nicotine-dependent. Only 400 pairs will be seen at Jefferson; the others will be studied at several other research sites.

In the study, the researchers will sample genetic material from each sibling. "If you share a trait such as eye color, for example, you’re likely to share genes that control them," he says. "We’re taking siblings who share a trait and going backwards and looking for genes in those pairs that are present more frequently than expected.

"What predisposes you to certain behaviors is genetics," he says. "Some people can smoke for years, and one day decide to quit and never go back. Others can try and try and never be able to beat it. The easy answer is, some people have will power and some don’t. But quitting is different for different people. People like to think of themselves as free-willed, but in truth, much of our behavior is wired." Specialists use a number of different techniques to help smokers quit, including behavioral modification and counseling, nicotine replacement therapy with a patch or gum, and drugs. Zyban, an antidepressant, is gaining popularity.

"Despite similarities in nicotine levels in the blood and how people metabolize nicotine, people differ in their addictions," Dr. Leone says. The researchers suspect that the behavioral trait for nicotine dependence is related in part to genetic makeup. It may involve the genes that control how we perceive and process information, he says.

"If we can identify the gene or genes responsible for or contributing to nicotine dependence, it would bring us one step closer to understanding the pathway between nicotine exposure and nicotine dependence. We hope it will tell us more about how to treat nicotine dependence – it’s one step in a long process," he says.

Dr. Leone and his co-workers hope to also conduct a study of unrelated people who share the same trait to see if they share the same genes more frequently than those without the trait.

Scientists know much about the genetics of the biochemistry of nicotine, Dr. Leone explains. There have been "meaningful twin studies showing that identical twins reared apart are more likely to smoke compared to fraternal twins reared apart," he notes. "There’s something dramatic going on that is influenced by biochemistry, but it’s not the only thing going on.

"We might find that there are 10 genes that work together – we don’t know," he says. "Genetics is additive and genes interact. If we get results, they might help support the concept that addictive behavior may be modified.

"Once you have the gene, you can get the biochemical pathway and the brain process of nicotine addiction," Dr. Leone says. "When you understand that, you can talk about intervention. Ultimately, we’d like to find a drug to inhibit a neural pathway."

For more information about enrolling in the trial, please call 215-955-7867 or 1-800-JEFF NOW.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Jefferson Medical College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Jefferson Medical College. "Jefferson Scientist Hopes To Answer The Question, "Why Is It So Hard To Quit Smoking?"." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 August 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990818071459.htm>.
Jefferson Medical College. (1999, August 18). Jefferson Scientist Hopes To Answer The Question, "Why Is It So Hard To Quit Smoking?". ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990818071459.htm
Jefferson Medical College. "Jefferson Scientist Hopes To Answer The Question, "Why Is It So Hard To Quit Smoking?"." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990818071459.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Shows Newborn Chicks Count From Left to Right Just Like Humans

Study Shows Newborn Chicks Count From Left to Right Just Like Humans

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Researchers for the first time identified human&apos;s innate preference for associating low and high numbers with the left and right respectively in another species. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Best Mood Elevating, Feel Good Shakes & Smoothies

Best Mood Elevating, Feel Good Shakes & Smoothies

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) You can elevate your mood by having a meal in a glass. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) offers the best &apos;feel good&apos; smoothies and shakes chock full of depression-relieving ingredients...including apples, berries, lemons, cucumbers, papaya, kiwi, spinach, kale, whey protein, matcha, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poll Says Firstborn Is Responsible, Youngest Is Funnier

Poll Says Firstborn Is Responsible, Youngest Is Funnier

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) According to a poll out of the U.K., eldest siblings feel more responsible and successful than their younger siblings. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins