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Large-scale study focuses on heavy smokers

Date:
August 25, 2014
Source:
University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Summary:
A study based on blood samples from more than 55,000 Danes shows a direct correlation between smoking and mortality. A special gene variant increases the risk of heavy smoking, researchers report. "There is a lot to suggest that you can be genetically predisposed to heavy smoking. Smokers carrying a special genetic mutation have a higher tobacco consumption, which is, of course, very harmful for their health -- and they have a 14 percent higher risk of dying before other smokers," one researcher.

A study based on blood samples from more than 55,000 Danes conducted by the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital shows a direct correlation between smoking and mortality. A special gene variant increases the risk of heavy smoking. The findings have been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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It is a fact that smoking is harmful and associated with deadly diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Researchers also know that smokers die earlier than non-smokers. But a study that sheds light on the direct causal relationship between smoking and mortality by investigating genes has never been published before:

"We have studied 55,568 individuals, including 32,823 smokers who we followed for ten years. 3,430 died during this period. The epidemiological studies were supported by genetic analyses, and the conclusion is clear. Smoking is associated with premature death, and heavy smokers have a 75 percent higher risk of dying than never-smokers of the same age. This may not come as a surprise, but it is actually the first time that this type of study -- which presents a direct causal relationship between smoking and mortality -- has been carried out," says Professor and chief physician Børge Nordestgaard from the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital.

Smoking gene increases tobacco consumption

The researchers have also studied a special gene variant that impacts heavy smoking: The smoking gene has no influence on whether you start or quit smoking. But if you do smoke, the gene will make you smoke more. People who have inherited the gene variant from both their parents smoke 20 percent more than those without the special gene variant.

"There is a lot to suggest that you can be genetically predisposed to heavy smoking. Smokers carrying a special genetic mutation have a higher tobacco consumption -- and they are more affected by smoking, e.g. by having higher blood nicotine levels. They quite simply smoke more convincingly -- which is, of course, very harmful for their health -- and they have a 14 percent higher risk of dying before other smokers," says Børge Nordestgaard.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Rode, S. E. Bojesen, M. Weischer, B. G. Nordestgaard. High tobacco consumption is causally associated with increased all-cause mortality in a general population sample of 55 568 individuals, but not with short telomeres: a Mendelian randomization study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyu119

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. "Large-scale study focuses on heavy smokers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825100039.htm>.
University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. (2014, August 25). Large-scale study focuses on heavy smokers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825100039.htm
University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. "Large-scale study focuses on heavy smokers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825100039.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

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