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NIDA. (2015, April 15). Gene variant related to greater difficulty in quitting smoking and earlier lung cancer diagnosis. Retrieved from

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Science Spotlight

April 15, 2015

Blue smoke

People with a specific form of the CHRNA5 gene take an average of four years longer to quit smoking and are at greater risk for developing lung cancer four years earlier, compared to smokers without this gene variant. This is according to a meta-analysis of 24 studies examining variants in the CHRNA5 gene within participants of European ancestry. By some measures, approximately 18% of people with this ancestry carry the high-risk variant.

Although past analyses have shown a relationship between this gene variant and heavy smoking, this is the first meta-analysis to clarify the role of CHRNA5 variations in smoking cessation. This genetic marker may help improve early lung cancer detection in a high-risk population.

This analysis was funded by various NIH Institutes, including NIDA. For a copy of the article, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, go to:

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at or 301-443-6245.