Scientists find genetic vulnerability to menthol cigarette use

Updated:1 month ago IST

New Delhi, Feb 16 (ANI): Scientists have now found a genetic variant in people of African descent that significantly increases a smoker's preference for cigarettes containing menthol, a flavour additive. According to scientists, the variant of the MRGPRX4 gene is five to eight times more frequent among smokers who use menthol cigarettes than other smokers, according to an international group of researchers supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. The study is the first to look across all genes to identify genetic vulnerability to menthol cigarettes. According to the FDA, nearly 20 million people in the United States smoke menthol cigarettes, which are particularly popular among African-American smokers and teen smokers. In the U.S., 86 per cent of African-American smokers use menthol cigarettes, compared to less than 30 per cent of smokers of European descent. In addition, menthol cigarettes may be harder to quit than other cigarettes. Although not originally the focus of the study, researchers also uncovered clues as to how menthol may reduce the irritation and harshness of smoking cigarettes. The research team, led by Dennis Drayna, conducted detailed genetic analyses on 1,300 adults. The researchers report that 5 to 8 per cent of the African-American study participants had the gene variant. Drayna added that while the gene variant can't explain all of the increased use of menthol cigarettes by African-Americans, the findings indicate that this variant is a potentially important factor that underlies the preference for menthol cigarettes in the population.

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