Genetics of the association between intelligence and nicotine dependence: a study of male Swedish twins

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AimsPrevious studies have found inverse associations between intelligence quotient (IQ) and cigarette smoking, but the causal pathways linking IQ with smoking status and nicotine dependence (ND) are not well understood. The aim of this study was to explore the associations between IQ and ND using a genetically informative twin design to detect whether any association is because of shared genetic or environmental factors.DesignA population-based twin cohort with IQ measured in adolescence and ND later in life, analysed by classical twin modeling based on linear structural equations.SettingSwedish national registry data.ParticipantsA total of 5040 male twins born 1951–84.MeasurementsIQ was measured at military conscription at a mean age of 18 years. ND was self-reported at the ages of 22–57 years using the Fagerström Test for ND scale (FTND). Both cigarette smoking and Swedish snus use were analysed.FindingsBoth IQ and ND showed moderate heritability (0.58 and 0.39, respectively). The heritability of ND was similar for cigarette smoking and snus use. The phenotypic correlation between IQ and ND was weak: −0.11 (−0.16, −0.06) for total ND. Bivariate analysis revealed that this correlation was mainly because of genetic factors, but still the genetic correlation between IQ and ND from cigarette smoking was only −0.24.ConclusionsNicotine dependence, as measured by the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence, shows moderate heritability in both smokers and snus users but is only weakly associated with intelligence quotient; common genetic factors underlying nicotine dependence and intelligence quotient probably account for little of the observed association between smoking and intelligence quotient.

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