Stopping smoking can be influenced by genes. The presence of a specific variant of the Taq1A gene in human DNA, called Taq1A A2/A2, may directly affect a person’s ability to quit smoking. An international group of scientists led by Ma Jün-lun from the Medical Faculty of Jiangxi University in China published their study on Tuesday evening in the Translational Psychiatry and Nature journals.
The Taq1A A2/A2 gene codes for the function of dopamine receptors, thereby altering their level of activity. An excess of dopamine in a person’s brain subsequently contributes to the formation of nicotine addiction – the brain begins to “perceive” smoking as pleasurable, and thus it becomes an activity that needs to be repeated.
The researchers analyzed the results of 22 studies, which included data on 11,075 individuals, of which 9,487 were of European descent. The authors of the study claim that they have discovered a certain correlation:
People of European descent who had a specific variant of the Taq1A gene in their DNA (Taq1A A2/A2) were much more likely to successfully manage nicotine addiction and refuse smoking than those who had Taq1A A1/A1 or Taq1A A1/A2 genes.
The researchers emphasize that their work requires further verification, and the use of the conclusions obtained in medical practice is premature at this point.
Gaming addiction – a side effect of treatment
Another group of researchers found that doctors have overestimated the effectiveness of dopamine receptor agonists, which have been used to treat Parkinson’s disease and mental disorders.
Agonist drugs affect dopamine receptors, increasing their activity. Excessive amounts of hormones have caused various mental disorders and addictions.
Over the course of ten years, 1580 cases of addiction as a side effect of medication were reported in 21 countries around the world. These cases included 628 cases of gambling addiction, 465 cases of hypersexuality, and 202 cases of compulsive buying. Of the 1580 diagnosed cases, 710 were caused by dopamine receptor agonists, and the remaining 870 were caused by all other types of hormone-altering medications. More information about the research can be found in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.
Dopamine against cancer
Researchers at Ohio State University led by Sudjit Basu, however, propose the use of dopamine as a drug for cancer treatment. The relevant article was published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Scientists claim that the use of dopamine significantly slows down the growth of blood vessels in malignant tumors, which is one of the key factors in its growth because blood vessels provide nourishment to cancer.
In addition, researchers claim that the use of dopamine reduces the negative impact of 5-fluorouracil (an anti-cancer drug used in chemotherapy) on the patient’s blood count.