A study by Daniel W. Belsky, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues sought to examine how genetic risks influence the developmental progression of smoking behavior from initiation through conversion to daily smoking, progression to heavy smoking, nicotine dependence, and struggles with quitting. (Online First)
The 38-year longitudinal study included 1,037 male and female participants from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study of New Zealand. The genetic risk of participants was assessed with a multilocus genetic risk score. Smoking initiation, conversion to daily smoking, progression to heavy smoking, nicotine dependence and quitting difficulties were evaluated at eight assessments spanning the ages of 11 to 38 years.
Genetic risk score was unrelated to smoking initiation. However, individuals with higher genetic risk scores were more likely to convert to daily smoking as teenagers, progressed more rapidly from smoking initiation to heavy smoking, persisted longer in smoking heavily, developed nicotine dependence more frequently, were more reliant on smoking to cope with stress, and were more likely to fail in their attempts to quit, according to the study.
“Initiatives that disrupt the developmental progression of smoking behavior among adolescents may mitigate genetic risks for developing adult smoking problems,” the study concludes.
(JAMA Psychiatry. Published online March 27, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.736.