What does smoking have to do with mental health problems? Data on 840,000 people reveal genetic factors

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful to health. So why do some people get addicted to cigarettes, and some people never smoke? Why do some people succeed in quitting smoking, and some people quit repeatedly? Life experiences, social relationships, emotions and many other factors can affect a person’s smoking status. However, many studies have suggested that a person’s genes play an important role in the possibility of became addicted to tobacco.

Recently, a team led by scientists at Yale University conducted a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) that analyzed a meta-analysis of smoking tracks (current, past, never smoked) and genome sequencing data from 842,717 people. The researchers then revealed 99 gene places associated with smoking and 13 gene places associated with quitting smoking. The study was published in Nature’s sub-journal, Nature Communications.

What does smoking have to do with mental health problems? Data on 840,000 people reveal genetic factors

These results, on the one hand, verify that some previously known genes are associated with smoking, such as CHRNA3, a gene that encodes the acetylcholine-liker sub-base A3, which is associated with the role of nicotine. What’s more, the study also found 18 new genetic points related to smoking.

The researchers also sequenced the importance of more than 100 smoking-related gene locations. Based on the relationship between expression and quantitative traits, as well as the relationship between bits and chromosomes, it is pointed out that 40 genes have a potential causal relationship with smoking. “This information is important for the next step in studying how these genes play a role in people’s smoking behavior.” The study’s lead author, Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Ke Xu, said.

Some genes have attracted particular attention from researchers. For example, variants of DRD2 and BDNF are associated with tobacco addiction, and they are two genes that have been widely studied in psychiatry.

What does smoking have to do with mental health problems? Data on 840,000 people reveal genetic factors

There was a significant positive correlation between smoking and whether or not you had smoked, alcohol consumption, depression, schizophrenia or lung disease, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and obesity

Professor Xu points out that a person’s smoking trajectory is highly genetically relevant to other mental disorders and diseases. Alcohol, depression and schizophrenia are highly associated with smoking behavior. “The findings of this study may partly explain why smoking is common in people with mental illness.”

Often people emphasize the physical harm of smoking, and the associated genetic susceptivity emphasizes that we also need to pay attention to the relationship between smoking and mental health.