HealthDay News — A gene variation associated with smoking longer and being diagnosed with lung cancer at an earlier age has been identified, according to study results published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“Recent meta-analyses show strong evidence of associations among genetic variants in CHRNA5 on chromosome 15q25, smoking quantity, and lung cancer,” explained Li-Shiun Chen, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
To test whether the CHRNA5 variant rs16969968 predicts age of smoking cessation and age of lung cancer diagnosis, the investigators conducted a meta-analysis of 24 studies that included 29,072 smokers of European ancestry.
Patients with a certain variation in a nicotine receptor gene called CHRNA5 were more likely to keep smoking for four years after those without the variation had quit, noted the scientists. People with the variation in the CHRNA5 gene also inhaled deeper when they smoked and had a higher risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer four years earlier than those without the variation.
The average age of diagnosis was 61 years among those with the variation and 65 years for those without the variation.
“Adding this information to screening criteria could help us focus our resources on people at the highest risk,” said colleague Laura Jean Bierut, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in a press release.
“In addition, knowing that they are the ones most likely to respond to nicotine-replacement therapy could allow us to respond with treatments that are more likely to be effective.”