Research

Research linking smoking to genetics is misleading: Healis

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eHEALTH Bureau

Criticising a new research published in a scientific journal that links smoking addiction to genetics, Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, an organisation dedicated to improving public health in India and other developing countries, and an anti-tobacco advocacy group, said such studies would only undermine a smoker’s will power to quit the habit as they will now find an easy alibi in genetic pre-disposition.

Stating that nicotine dependence is more to do with environmental factors than genetics, Dr Prakash C Gupta, director Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, opined that while there is evidence that genetic pre-determiners exist for certain behavior, if the environmental effects do not occur, then the genetics will never take over.

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The three studies published in the journal Nature Genetics compared the DNA of a total of more than 140,000 people and discovered the desire to give up smoking is linked to genetics than willpower.

Dr. Vidya Salaskar a genetic specialist from Metropolis Healthcare limited was of the opinion “As cigarettes have nicotine, over a prolonged period of time, the nicotine can affect your genes. For the average individual, smoking is a socio-psychological phenomenon, like peer pressure, fashion trends etc. Genes play a minor role in their ability to quite. By blaming genes, it only gives the smokers another reason for not quitting.”

Buttressing his point further, Dr Gupta states that while genes provide the basis of human behavior, without certain environmental impacts, these predispositions will remain untouched.

Says Dr Gupta, “Although genetics has a minor role to play, it would be grossly exaggerated to blame genes for all human ills. If certain behavior, such as a predisposition for drinking or smoking is related to genetics, then the person will not own up responsibility for his behavior and would conveniently blame genetics for his habits.”

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