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Smoker gene stings and shields

London, June 30 (Reuters): Smokers finding it hard to kick the habit may be genetically predisposed to keep on puffing, according to new research from Japan.

But the same gene which makes it hard to quit, CYP2A6del allele, might also protect people against pulmonary emphysema, scientists from the University of Tokyo said. They reported in the Thorax medical journal today that fewer heavy smokers and ex-smokers had the gene than light or non-smokers.

The gene appeared to restrict the amount of life-long cigarette consumption in heavy smokers but also seemed to make it harder to quit, they said.

“These findings suggest that determination of the genotype will be useful in efficiently withdrawing patients from nicotine dependence..,” they added. Knowing a person’s genetic make-up could also give new insight into the causes of smoking-induced pulmonary emphysema, they said.

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