Researchers Links a Specific Gene Variant with Increased Menthol Cigarette Use

In Africans, a genetic variant was found which significantly increases smoker cigarettes preferences addictive flavor containing menthol. This variant MRGPRX4 gene is about five to eight times stronger among the smokers who use menthol smokes than regular smokes.

This study helps to look in further in all genes to identify the genetic vulnerability to smokers who use menthol cigarettes. This research was done by international group researchers and was supported by US food and drug administration and the national institute of health.

As we all know menthol is used to provide mint and cooling taste and also provide a soothing sensation. But it also plays a troubling role in US cigarettes smoking patterns. According to FDA menthol cigarettes are used by 20 million people in the USA.

Most of them are American Africans while others are teen smokers. But the point which should be noted is that menthol cigarettes are harder to quit than any other type of cigarette. But clues are also uncovered how menthol may reduce the irritation and harshness of the people smoking cigarettes.

This study helps to shed light on the molecular mechanism of how menthol interacts with the body. Said Andrew Griffith M.D, Ph.D. scientific director and acting deputy director of NIH. “These results can help to perform public health strategies to lower the rate of harmful cigarettes and smoking among groups particularly vulnerable to using menthol cigarettes.

Detailed genetic analysis on 1300 adults was conducted by Dennis drayna, chief of the PH.D. research team of the section of genetic communication on disorder at NICDD gene variants was reported in 5 to 8 percent of African Americans. While the participants of Europe, Asia, and native America do not have any signs of the variant.

“We expected to find genes that relate to taste receptors since menthol is a flavor additive,” said Drayna. “Instead, we discovered a different kind of signaling molecule that appears to be involved in menthol preference.”

“While this gene variant can’t explain all of the increased use of menthol cigarettes by African-Americans, our findings indicate that this variant is a potentially important factor that underlies the preference for menthol cigarettes in this population.

While things like cultural factors or industry advertising practices have been a focus for understanding menthol use thus far, our findings indicate that African-specific genetic factors also need to be considered,” said Drayna.

The agency has announced plans to propose a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes and cigars, in large part because of the high use of menthol cigarettes among youth and young adults. More than half of the smoker population aging 12 to 17 is involved in menthol-flavored cigarettes.

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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