Science News

Nicotine Intake Is Genetic

Sun, 27th Jan 2002

Part of the show How Dolphins, Whales and other Marine Mammals Communicate

The number of cigarettes that a person smokes per day depends upon how fast your body breaks down nicotine, and this depends upon your race, say scientists in america. The researchers have been looking at the behaviour of smokers and have found that some ethnic populations break down nicotine, the substance that makes cigarettes addictive, much more slowly than others. Recent research in America has found that Chinese Americans break down nicotine 25% more slowly than white and Latino Americans, and as a result the Chinese Americans smoke fewer cigarettes per day, and have fewer cases of lung cancer, compared with whites and latinos. The researchers have tracked the difference down to a substance called CYP2A6 which breaks down nicotine. Critically CYP2A6 is much less active in Chinese people than in whites. The researchers warn that Chinese-american smokers hoping to kick the habit using nicotine gum or patches may need to take less than the advised dose.
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