Utah Scientists Study Addiction Gene

Utah Scientists Study Addiction Gene

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News Specialist Jill Atwood reportingIf you're a smoker and you can't quit, chances are there may be something in your genetic makeup that got you lighting up to begin with.

Scientists at the University of Utah are hard at work right now trying to identify the addiction gene.

Basically what researchers are saying is that craving to smoke is not in your head -- it's biological, and you get it from your mom and dad.

That being said, the study will work hard to first identify the gene, and then identify those who have it. The idea is to stop an addiction before it starts.

Scientists say the gene can kick in early, but if you can make it into adulthood and not succumb to temptation, you may be able to avoid becoming addicted.

"They are predominantly expressed during adolescence, so when a person is about 12 years old to 25 years of age, if you are exposed to those agents during that time that is when you develop your addiction," says Scott Rogers, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy.

The researchers say these same people can also be more prone to developing diseases related to smoking such as lung cancer or emphysema. Eventually the hope is to have medication to treat the smoker to help curb the cravings and control the addictive gene.

Smoking is a serious problem for many Americans -- one third of smoking Americans try to quit every year and less than five percent succeed.

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