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Is Quitting in Your Genes?
Scientists at Duke University and the National Institute on Drug Abue have discovered a set of genes, about 100, that predict how well a smoker will respond to two different types of therapy to quit smoking. Everyone possesses these genes, but in different arrangements that make one approach better than the other, depending on the individual’s genetic make-up.
One method uses nicotine replacement to slowly wean people off cigarettes through gums and patches. The other approach uses the antidepressant bupropion (Zyban). Why an antidepressant for quitting smoking, you ask? It’s because Zyban disrupts the flow of information from the nicotine to the brain that says cigarettes are wonderful and rewarding.
Researchers are now testing the next step: Assigning people to the treatment approach that would work best for them. Smokers whose genes are better at scanning for bupropion breakdown respond better to the Zyban method. Smokers whose genes are more effective at overall cell communication, or adhesion, seem to respond better to nicotine replacement treatments.
While this research obviously opens up new windows for quitting smoking techniques, can you imagine what other types of treatments could be tailor made to your genes? [Time]
I'm a smoker who has been trying to quit for more than two years. Unlike most, I've been able to cut down without drugs or patches to about a pack a week.
I'm skeptical about using one drug to wean yourself off of an other. One of the original uses of cocaine in the early 20th century was as a cure for morphine addiction.
I think the most effective way to eliminate smoking is already underway -- a public health campaign that is slowly moving tobacco to the margins of society. Ordinaces that take cigarettes out of restaurants, public spaces, and most recetly, even entry ways to private buildings, do more to discourage smoking en masse than any drugs ever will.