06/18/2009 - News

Genetic knowledge doesn't help smoking cessation

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Knowledge of genetic susceptibility to lung cancer has little impact on efforts to quit smoking.
The gene known as GSTM1 has a detoxifying effect on cigarette smoke. Many people with lung cancer lack the enzyme, so it is a risk factor. Researchers at Duke University wondered whether a knowledge of this genetic risk would affect people's attempts to give up smoking.


They recruited a group of 557 African-Americans who smoked. Some received counselling and support for smoking cessation, but did not have the genetic test. The rest received the smoking cessation programme and also took the test for GSTM1. Those who proved to lack the detoxifying gene were not really any more motivated to give up smoking - most were already concerned over the health risk and this just confirmed their fears. However, those who were in the clear - by having the gene - weren't complacent. They were as likely to try to give up as those who didn't have the gene. Evidently the role of genetic knowledge in lifestyle modification is quite complex - more work is needed to see how genetic tests fit into smoking cessation programmes.



Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention July 2002

Created on: 07/05/2002
Reviewed on: 06/18/2009

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