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British researchers unravel the secret of smokers' lung health
Smoking is the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), six million people die each year from the consequences of tobacco use. However, not all smokers seem to be at equal risk, instead the risk of developing the disease may be determined by genetic factors. British researchers have now identified six gene variations that appear to play a central role in lung health.
Risk of stroke and heart attack from cigarette consumption particularly high Smoking is bad for health - that much is well known to everyone. It is considered a central risk factor for many serious diseases such as Lung cancer, smoker's leg, stroke, heart attack, COPD or asthma and is the number one cause of death worldwide.
But how is it that one remains healthy despite a box a day, while another smokes only a few cigarettes and still suffers from cancer? The genes obviously play an important role here. British researchers have now for the first time managed to determine six gene variations that are directly related to lung health.
According to the University of Nottingham, researchers at the university, together with colleagues from the University of Leicester, had examined whether the occurrence of lung disease COPD might be influenced by genetic factors. The "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" (English: COPD) is a variety of clinical pictures, which are characterized above all by typical smoking cough, increased sputum, morning cough and shortness of breath. COPD is now considered a widespread disease, which is estimated to affect around 600 million people worldwide.
Scientists use UK biobank with data from 500,000 people
For their study, the researchers used the so-called “U.K Biobank”, which is a large long-term biobank study in Great Britain (UK), in which the medical data of 500,000 volunteers are stored. They selected a subset of 50,000 people from the large pool, among which were people with and without COPD as well as heavy smokers and non-smokers.
After analyzing the subjects' DNA, the scientists compared the identified genetic variations with the lung health and smoking behavior of the participants. An interesting result was shown because the team was able to identify six new genetic variations that have a direct influence on the functioning of the lungs, according to the scientists in the specialist magazine "Lancet Respiratory Medicine". This applies to smokers and non-smokers alike, but according to the researchers, the exact relationships have not yet been clarified.
Results could drive development of new treatments
“The drugs we use to prevent or treat diseases target the proteins in our body and our genes affect the production of proteins. If we understand how the genes are involved in illness or tobacco addiction, it can help us develop better, more targeted treatments that would be more effective and have fewer side effects, ”said study director Professor Ian Hall of the University of Nottingham.
The researchers are now hoping for an extension of the study to examine the genetics of all 500,000 participants in the “U.K Biobank”, which should be available next year. (No)