…sometimes – Some things that seem destructive can be helpful in another way?under the right circumstances. With this in mind, researchers have discovered that a gene that makes you more likely to smoke also PROTECTS you from becoming addicted to cocaine!

People with 2 copies of a mutation in a specific gene are more likely to become heavy smokers, and scientists assumed that this mutation would make people more likely to become addicted to drugs as well. In New Scientist, Nora Schultz quotes researcher Rick Grucza as saying, “Most cocaine users are also smokers, so we expected the same gene to increase the risk for both.” But when he looked at the DNA of over 250 cocaine addicts and non-addicts, he found that less than half of the addicts had one copy of that mutation. The question became: how could a gene that makes people more likely to smoke make them less likely to take coke?

The answer: This mutation reduces the effect of both the reward and inhibition neurons, but cocaine only affects the reward neurons (advertisers have long known that cigarette smokers have fewer inhibitions, which is why so many ads show them doing dare devil activities, like parachute jumping, while smoking), thus smokers actually get less of a kick out of cocaine than non-smokers.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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