Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have discovered a genetic glitch that makes certain smokers up to ten times more likely to develop lung cancer than others.
According to a study published in the US Journal of the National Cancer Institute, some smokers have less ability to repair smoking related damage to DNA. Unrepaired DNA can trigger cancer.
Scientists focused on an enzyme called OGG that normally "deletes" the parts of DNA damaged by the toxic molecules in tobacco smoke and developed a blood test to measure OGG activity. Smokers with the genetic risk factor were found to be five to ten times more likely to develop cancer than smokers with normal DNA repair activity.
The findings may explain why only ten to 16 percent of heavy smokers get lung cancer, researchers say.