Myths and Facts – Nicotine Addiction and Genetics

Over the past few decades, an increasing number of individuals ranging from minors to teenagers including adults are engaging into the habit of smoking. As a result, more people are experiencing the addictive effect of nicotine. Since it is actually highly addictive, frequent smokers eventually develop nicotine addiction from cigarettes. In response, the US government funds genetic researchers to continuously study genetic links between nicotine addiction and first time smokers and create probable smoking cessation methods using these newly discovered addiction genetic markers.

Genetics of Nicotine Addiction Myths VS Facts

Recently, reports of breakthroughs about nicotine addiction and its relation to genetics are proliferating online. With all these information available, it is hard to pinpoint which are true and which are not. It is even harder to determine whether these claims are real due to the fact that most of them are merely assumptions and still need further investigations. Anyway, to fully understand about the genetics of addiction, here are some misconceptions that should not be confuse with already established facts.

Myth: ” Nicotine addiction is inevitable for nicotinic receptor gene variant carriers.”

Fact: While it is true that carrying a nicotinic receptor gene variant makes an individual vulnerable to addiction, susceptibility does not mean inevitability. It is not always certain that carrying a receptor gene will make a smoker exhibit addictive traits. Carriers should just avoid activating these genes or the best thing to do is not to try smoking as much possible.

Myth: ” Only one type of nicotinic receptor gene is all it takes to become susceptible to nicotine addiction.”

Fact: Susceptibility to nicotine addiction requires interaction of various receptor gene variants. Even a recent research study supports that out of 30,000 genes in the body, 594 are more activated and 584 are less activated in genes of smokers compared to non-smokers. It clearly shows that even 2 or 3 nicotinic receptor gene variants are not enough to develop addiction.

Myth: ” Nicotine addiction is hereditary in nature.”

Fact: The nicotinic receptor gene variants may be hereditary however, addiction only results from the activation of such genes through an external factor. This implies that an environmental factor may cancel out an addiction gene resulting to its inactivated state. Thus, the children may have the gene but they can always fight it off by not trying smoking in the first place.

Myth: ” An unpleasant first smoking experience will not make you vulnerable to nicotine addiction.”

Fact: While for most of the people who experience something unpleasant tends to avoid it, circumstances for habitual smoking are quite different. A recent finding regarding nicotine is that a first time encounter seems to suggest intensity, rather that pleasure. The shocking results confirmed that most people who undergone unpleasant first smoking encounters were the ones who developed nicotine addiction.

Myth: “Presence of nicotinic receptor genes is the root cause of obsession to cigarette smoking.”

Fact: While it might be true that triggering these nicotinic receptor gene variants may increase the chances of developing addiction, an individual’s environment still plays a big part of it. Peer pressure, depression, stress and other external factors also help in urging the person to smoke which will eventually lead to nicotine addiction.

Nonetheless, whether targeting these nicotinic receptor gene variants may lessen if not prevent cases of addiction, it is still a positive breakthrough in the field of science. Identifying such genes may prove to be helpful for future creation of possible cessation methods for cigarette smoking. By identifying specific nicotinic receptor genes responsible for addiction, scientists may uncover probable medications for addiction treatment. Whether the reality of genetics being responsible for addiction is true or not, what is important is realizing the fact that there are some reasons behind the cause of nicotine addiction that is beyond our control.