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Smokers and Lung Cancer: Gene Risk?

Certain Gene Variations May Make Smoking Especially Risky
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 2, 2008 -- Some smokers may be especially vulnerable to lung cancer because of a genetic variation in chromosome 15.

Three new studies published in this week's editions of Nature and Nature Genetics focus on a region of chromosome 15 in smokers.

Variations in that area of chromosome 15 are linked to increased risk of lung cancer among cigarette smokers, according to two of the new studies. Those risky variants may make good targets for lung cancer treatment, note the researchers.

The third study shows that smokers with certain gene variations in that region of chromosome 15 tend to smoke more cigarettes and have greater nicotine dependence than other smokers.

The studies don't cover smokers' genetic vulnerability to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health risks.

All three studies focused on people of European descent. The researchers call for further studies to see if the same genetic patterns also hold in other ethnic groups.

The scientists who worked on the studies included Christopher Amos, PhD, of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Thorgeir Thorgeirsson, PhD, of Decode Genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland; and Rayjean Hung, PhD, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.

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