Why do brunettes find it harder to quit?

The Tweet: “Brunettes are more susceptible to nicotine addiction.”

Dark haired smokers are more likely to become addicted to nicotine, according toresearch from Penn State University. The scientists noticed a relationship between melanin and levels of nicotine dependence. Melanin is the pigment found in hair and skin that is responsible for giving brunettes their dark brown hair colour.

“We have found that the concentration of melanin is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked daily, levels of nicotine dependence, and nicotine exposure,” said author Gary King.

Nicotine has been shown to accumulate in tissues containing melanin, and dependence on nicotine increases with higher levels of melanin. The researchers suggest that the association between melanin levels and nicotine addiction might go some way to explain why African American smokers, who have darker skin and higher levels of melanin, are ‘disproportionately burdened with tobacco-related diseases, and report greater difficulty quitting smoking.’

“The point of the study is that, if in fact, nicotine does bind to melanin, populations with high levels of melanin could indicate certain types of smoking behaviour, dependence, and health outcomes that will be different from those in less pigmented populations,” said King. “And the addiction process may very well be longer and more severe.”

“One of the questions we want to address is why African Americans have lower quit rates than whites,” King said. “This avenue of research may help us explore that question more definitively.”

Image: Death to Stock Photos

This post was first published on The Untweetable Truth (11/03/2014)

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