October 26, 2008
Nicotine Addicts Have Genetically Lower Taste Sensitivity

Genetically determined sense of taste influences one's risk to become a nicotine addict.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., October 13, 2008 - Could an aversion to bitter substances or an overall heightened sense of taste help protect some people from becoming addicted to nicotine? That's what researchers at UVA have found using an innovative new method they've developed to analyze the interactions of multiple genetic and environmental factors.  Their findings one day may be key in identifying people at risk for nicotine dependence.

In a study published in the October 10, 2008 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, University of Virginia Health System researchers report that two interacting genes related to bitter taste sensitivity, TAS2R16 and TAS2R38, play an important role in a person's development of nicotine dependence and smoking behavior.  Researchers found that people with higher taste sensitivity aren't as likely to become dependant on nicotine as people with decreased taste sensitivity.

Greater taste sensitivity might discourage cigarette smoking by making tobacco smoke taste more bitter.

It's long been known that a person's ability to taste bitter substances plays a crucial role in the rejection of potentially toxic foods, but taste sensitivity varies widely among individuals and between ethnic groups.

This is yet another way in which genes control human behavior without our being aware of it.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 October 26 05:21 PM  Brain Addiction

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