Search For A Cure
Research, Scientific Breakthroughs, & Caregiver Tips
Is Tobacco Addiction Hereditary?
Outside influences play an important role in a given individual’s decision to begin using tobacco. Peer pressure is a major factor, and when someone lives or works in an environment where smoking is prevalent, they’re more likely to start smoking themselves. Scientists have found evidence, however, that susceptibility to nicotine addiction may be inherited, too.
Studies have found that heritability of nicotine addiction risk may be as high as 80%. People with a family history of tobacco addiction are more likely to develop the addiction themselves. Studies of identical twins that have been isolated from each other have ruled out a home-life environment as the culprit, suggesting that genes probably play a role.
Scientists have not, though, been able to determine which genes might increase the risk. Analysis of study data has shown hundreds of different gene variations that may be a factor in addiction risk. These genes may affect the way that nerve cells communicate with each other in the brain, or they may affect the brain’s response to dopamine and other neurotransmitter chemicals.
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