The Latest Research Helps Answer Several Important Questions About Quitting Smoking

The round of latest new research offers several breakthroughs for people trying to quit smoking. It helps answer two very important questions when it comes to giving up the habit.

  • Why do some people find it harder than others to quit smoking?
  • How can people trying to quit smoking avoid withdrawal symptoms?

Research published in the journal Translational Psychiatry sheds light on why some people have a more difficult time than others at quitting. The study looked at the results from 23 previous studies into nicotine addiction. In Caucasian subjects, they noticed a clear connection between the presence of certain genes and how hard it was for someone to stop smoking. The gene involved regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine. Previous researchers have indeed found a correlation between dopamine and smoking. Those with a certain variation of the gene that regulates dopamine were much more likely to be able to quit smoking and to remain smoke-free.

In another study, researchers from the United States and Germany have teamed up to help discover how withdrawal symptoms can be avoided. Their research uncovered how two neurotransmitters interact in order to generate dependency upon nicotine. Acetylcholine and glutamate, both responsible for a number of functions in the body, interact with other each in a way that supports continued dependence upon nicotine.

Researchers from the Max Delbrück Center in Germany and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at The Rockefeller University genetically engineered mice so that they were unable to synthesize acetylcholine. They found that when mice could not synthesize acetylcholine, they had a decrease in glutamate transmission between nerve cells in these mice. A decrease in glutamate transmission has been shown in previous research to help decrease nicotine dependence. This most current research suggests that acetylcholine may regulate glutamate transmission. Therefore, if acetylcholine levels can be controlled, they may be able to be used to lower glutamate transmission therefore helping people trying to quit smoking avoid nicotine dependence.

For more information about these studies, check out IFL Science.