Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Healthy Smoker Gene

Some people smoke all their lives and never once cough up a pitch-black, pus-glistened lung. At worst, they develop a sexy, sandy voice and catlike dexterity in their fingers and wrists. But about 25% of heavy smokers come down with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. They hack, they wheeze, their lungs lose function, and they end up sounding like Sylvia Browne. It’s just terrible. So what’s the secret of that other 75%? Turns out, it’s probably genetic. Researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and St. Louis University have found that heavy smokers who develop COPD are more likely than other smokers to have five particular single nucleotide polymorphisms in a gene called ADAM33, which has previously been linked to asthma. The bad news is that there’s no gene therapy treatment right now to fix this problem in people prone to COPD. But the good news is that depending on the results of your next gene sequencing, you might feel more confident in taking up smoking! It does, after all, make you look so much cooler. More details here.

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