Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Gene Glitch Tied to Youth Smoking Addiction

Gene Mutation May Make Nicotine Linger Longer in the Body
WebMD Health News

Nov. 24, 2004 -- Smoking may be especially addictive for young people with certain gene mutations.

So say Jennifer O'Loughlin of McGill University and colleagues, after studying about 280 Canadian seventh graders who had started smoking.

A variety of factors determine whether someone initiates smoking and develops a dependence on nicotine. In adults, some studies have shown that nicotine addiction is linked to a person's genetics and the mechanisms in the liver that break down nicotine.

Abnormalities in the genes that break down nicotine might protect a new smoker against nicotine addiction by exposing him or her to nicotine toxicity symptoms, such as dizziness and nausea.

The study looked at the association between the genes that metabolize and break down nicotine and whether inactive genes would protect young teen smokers from tobacco addiction.

In roughly 2.5 years, more than 29% of the students became hooked on cigarettes.

The risk was especially high for those with an inactive CYP2A6 gene, which oversees clearing nicotine out of the body.

Mutations can leave that gene partially or totally inactive. That could make people more vulnerable to nicotine.

The longer nicotine lingers, the more chance it has to lure the body into addiction.

The students with the gene mutations smoked fewer cigarettes per week than those with the normal gene.

Those with the totally inactive gene smoked about 13 cigarettes weekly, compared with 29 for those with normal genes.

That may be because the nicotine buzz lasted longer in the gene mutation group, reducing their cigarette cravings.

The mutation deserves further study, say the researchers in the December issue of the journal Tobacco Control.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch