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The Boston Globe - Wednesday , August 1, 1990 by Judy Foreman (Globe Staff)

The National Cancer Institute announced yesterday that, contrary to widespread belief, heredity seems to have a strong influence on whether, and when, a smoker POSTs lung cancer.

For years, the evidence showing that smoking causes lung cancer was so clear that few researchers even bothered to wonder whether heredity might be involved as well.

But now, two new studies taken toPOSTher provide "the first strong evidence for gene- environment-lifestyle interactions" in causing lung cancer; according to an editorial accompanying the studies in this week's Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"We wanted to know why some heavy smokers never POST lung cancer while others who seldom smoke or smoke not at all succumb to the disease. Now we know that inherited traits, similar to those that determine hair or eye color, play a vital rule in determining an individual's risk for cigarette-induced lung cancer," the institute said in releasing its findings.

One study, headed by Dr. Neil E. Caporaso, a physician and researcher at the National Cancer Institute, found that people who have two copies of a particular gene are at six times greater risk of developing lung cancer than people with just one copy or no copies of this gene.

About 90 percent of the population has either one or two copies of the gene, which is located on chromosome 22, Caporaso said in a telephone interview.

The gene makes an enzyme that metabolizes or chews up certain chemicals, including a drug called debrisoquine, which is used in Great Britain and Canada to treat high blood pressure. (Debrisoquine is not used in the United States because, among people genetically sensitive to it, it causes too sudden a drop in blood pressure.)

People with the gene for this debrisoquine-chewing enzyme metabolize debrisoquine quickly, while those without the gene metabolize it slowly.

This same enzyme, Caporaso said, probably also activates one or more carcinogens in cigarette smoke, though no one knows specifically which of several hundred carcinogens it may act on. Alternatively, the debrisoquine gene may actually be a marker for another gene nearby on chromosome 22 that plays the central role in activating tobacco carcinogens.

A person with no copies of this gene theoretically would have little lung cancer risk, though Caporaso was quick to add that regardless of the cancer risk, smoking is still dangerous because it also causes heart disease and stroke.

The link between the ability to metabolize debrisoquine quickly and lung cancer was first proposed by British researchers in 1984 in the journal Nature. But until this National Cancer Institute study, attempts to confirm the British findings had failed.

The other new study shows that possession of both copies of a theoretical lung cancer gene, possibly the gene that Caporaso studied, causes a smoker to develop lung cancer 45 years earlier than he otherwise might have.

Led by Thomas A. Sellers, assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, the researchers conducted a statistical study of 337 white families in southern Louisiana with histories of lung cancer.

While this team has not isolated the gene involved, they did trace lung cancer cases through at least three generations in each family. They found that the age of onset of the cancer seemed to follow a common pattern of inheritance, strongly suggesting that a gene is involved.

"In general, the earlier forms of a disease tend to have a genetic basis. That's the dogma, and this fits with that dogma," said Sellers in a telephone interview.

Sellers' group studied lung cancer cases according to the age of onset. They found that among people who got lung cancer at age 50, 27 percent of the lung cancers were attributable to the gene alone, 42 percent to the joint effect of the gene and smoking, 27 percent to smoking alone and 4 percent to neither the gene nor smoking.

For people who got lung cancer at age 70, only 9 percent of the lung cancers were attributed to the gene, 13 percent to the joint effect of the gene and smoking, 72 percent to smoking alone and 6 percent to neither smoking nor genetics.

This strongly suggests, Sellers said, that a gene "accounts for a large percent of the early cases. The gene alone does not cause lung cancer, but only does so with smoking or some other environmental insult."

Taken toPOSTher, the new studies may help explain why not all smokers develop lung cancer. Overall, only about 20 percent of smokers develop lung cancer.

Caporaso said: "The more you smoke, the more likely you are to POST lung cancer. But for any given individual, it's a crapshoot, your chances are one in five. And what determines that is something genetic, not the level of exposure."

George E. Bonney, in the editorial accompanying both articles, wrote that it is "a good hypothesis to begin with" that' the gene Caporaso studied and the putative gene Sellers infers as the hereditary link to cancer are the same.

Proving that only one gene is involved and that it acts on cigarette smoke the way Caporaso said it does "will take time, but the public health implications are obviously critical, and clues provided by the two studies are excellent and the analytical methods are available," Bonney said.

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95% of our orders are shipped the day they are received.

Area information for Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and the Great Smoky Mountains.   Make it a perfect day and enjoy a meal at one of our Gatlinburg restaurants.
  • You MUST be at least 18 years of age to purchase tobacco products in Tennessee!
  • We do not sell tobacco products in Maine or Arizona.
  • All Packages are shipped US Post Office unless you specify UPS.
  • All Customers will be Charged for Shipping & Return Postage on any Refused or Returned package(s).
  • International Customers: You are to check with your local customs & duty officials to see if there are additional duties or fees required, or if there are prohibitions on tobacco or amounts of tobacco which can be shipped to your country.
  • Charge card customers may order by calling
  • To check on an order call 865-436-4412, 9am-3pm Eastern Time Monday-Friday.
  • Visit our showroom on D-Level of the Mountain Mall, on the corner of Parkway and River Road in Gatlinburg!
  • We are open 7 days a week.
  • Prices subject to change without prior notice.
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The Gatlin-Burlier
603 Skyline Dr.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.


As with any avalanche of lemons into one's life, survivors attempt to make lemonade and so it is with the Gatlinburlier Tobacconist. G&B Tobaccos new licensing and stature as a Tobacco Manufacturer now presents many opportunities for our loyal long-time customers. Not only does this new status make the Gatlinburlier the only truly legal tobacco retailer in the country, but it opens opportunities for us to expand our lines, since our access to specialty tobaccos has been vastly expanded. We plan to offer special deals on our new products as we produce new blends and attempt to improve some of our existing blends.

Tobacco being a natural product varies in characteristics year to year. It takes constant adjusting to keep blends consistent in taste, color, and burning qualities. In many cases blenders keep several years worth of tobaccos on hand so as to phase out one years product while phasing in another years crop to minimize the changes in the qualities of the blends. Over the 37 years that we have blended tobaccos some of our suppliers have left the business and other tobacco components have changed so much that we think we need to make adjustments to a few of our blends.

Gatlin-Burley our Americanized English once contained a very special Green River Valley tobacco which became unavailable. Given our new contacts within the industry we now have access to this rare tobacco, and have re blended this great blend, with just a touch of Latakia to meet its original qualities.

Gatlin-Burley was a blend created to keep the smoker's interest and encourage the maturation of the smoker's own tastes. Thirty-seven years ago it was our flag ship. It was an Americanized English that seemed to change taste as the smoker's pallet change over the course of one day and over the course of many weeks.

As a special short term offer we will send you a two ounce bag of this fabulous rebirth of greatness for only $5.95.

This extraordinary blend mixes fabulously with our Cades Cove Cavendish and our Chimney Smoke to make it even more tame for the American taste. For those looking to find a slightly more mature taste than is offered by our "natural aromatics" - Gatlin-Burley is the tobacco blend they are seeking, but "Made Even Better®".

2oz for only $5.95