Colour of your skin linked to nicotine dependence

May 9th, 2009 - 2:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 9 (IANS) The colour of your skin and nicotine dependence could be linked, according to latest research.
Smokers with higher concentrations of melanin - the colouring pigment - in their skin and hair may be at an increased risk of nicotine dependence and related carcinogens than lighter skinned smokers.

“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 among African Americans,” said Gary King, professor of bio-behavioural health at Penn State University.

King states that previous research shows that nicotine has a bio-chemical affinity for melanin. Conceivably, this association could result in an accumulation of the addictive agent in melanin-containing tissues of smokers with greater amounts of skin pigmentation.

“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,” explained King.

These findings are based on a survey of 150 adult African American smokers from three sites in inner city Harrisburg during summer 2007, said a Penn State University release.

Participants provided researchers with the average number of cigarettes smoked each day and answered a questionnaire that measured nicotine dependence.

The team’s findings will appear in the June issue of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour.

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