However, the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, found no differences between the sexes in factors related to continued smoking, which appeared to be strongly influenced by genetics. The study, entitled "Gender Differences In Determinants of Smoking Initiation and Persistence in California Twins," looked at factors that influenced twins to start smoking and to continue smoking.
With regard to starting smoking, there was a significant difference between men and women, said Ann Hamilton, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author on the study. "Heritability, which reflects factors related to genetic effects, was stronger in men; however, among men who communicated with each other at least weekly, the heritable effect was reduced. This may indicate that the heritable effect in men could be overestimated or able to be affected by environmental factors."
But when it comes to continuing to smoke, the study found little difference in causal factors between males and females or between those who communicated with each other often and those who did not. "Of those who smoke, it seems that there's a resistance to stopping that has a genetic component," Hamilton says.
"The study suggests that society can have the most impact in preventing people from smoking in the first place," Hamilton
Contact: Kathleen O'Neil
University of Southern California