Nicotine In Genes
Nicotine has been shown to have an interesting relationship with genes, not only have studies shown that nicotine can actually change and affect the users genes, but studies are now looking into the gene relationship between both user and non user parent and child. In this article we are going to explore three interesting gene-nicotine relationships. As if there wasn’t enough evidence to quit nicotine, or never start it in the first place, these eye-opening studies will give us some unnerving food for thought.
#1: Parent’s Nicotine use can Increase Asthma Likelihood in Children
Asthma is becoming an evermore present illness, with roughly 300 million people worldwide suffering from the lung disease, and that number expected to increase to 400 million by the year 2025. Studies are finding that when people are exposed to nicotine, it can affect their reproductive cells, and increase the likelihood of asthma in their future children, regardless of whether the children themselves have been exposed to nicotine. While researchers aren’t 100% sure why this change in genes happens, what the consensus is right now is that nicotine can affect which genes in the gametes are turned ‘on’ or ‘off’ and this change can last through multiple generations.
#2: Is addiction inheritable?
Trying to assess whether taking in nicotine can cause a genetic predisposition for nicotine addiction can be a tricky thing since there are so many different factors to consider, both inherent and environmental. If a child sees their parent smoking, it’s more likely that they will grow up thinking that smoking is okay. If a child is around a lot of cigarette smoke, it’s more likely that they will smoke compared to a child who was never exposed to it. Therefore, to isolate whether or not genetics play an imperative roll, can be a daunting task, but one worth exploring. In one study, scientists looked at specific genes among smokers and non-smokers and found a clear distinction between about 1,100 out of 30,000 genes. Out of all 30,000 genes analyzed between smokers and non-smokers, the study found 579 genes that were turned ‘on’ that usually are off, and 584 genes that were turned ‘off’ that are usually on. This doesn’t mean that all 1,163 of those genes correspond directly to addiction, it could be that people who have addictions also tend to be predisposed to mood disorders, or a litany of other things, but it is a promising first step to identifying genes related to addiction.
#3: Nicotine and Cancer Genes
We all know that smoking cigarettes can lead to cancer, but it has long been thought that more so than nicotine itself, it’s the other chemicals in cigarettes that lead to cancer. This is where the common misconception that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes comes from. New studies are looking at the effects of nicotine, e-cigarette liquid, and a combination of nicotine and e-cigarette liquid, on various genes in humans and animals. One study found that not only does nicotine damage DNA cells in the lungs and bladder of mice, but that nicotine can also reduce the organs’ ability to repair those cells. This could lead to an increase in the likelihood of cancer due to the fact that organs would be less able to stop mutated cells from multiplying and spreading. While this study did fail to include mice that were exposed to traditional combustible tobacco as well; which means we’re comparing e-cigarette use to use of no nicotine, cigarette, or e-cigarette, the study definitely showed an interesting relationship between nicotine itself and the genes.