Louise Millard of the University of Bristol and colleagues reported the finding in a study published in PLOS Genetics.
Some people carry one or two copies of a genetic variant, which is associated with heavier tobacco use.
To identify the effects of the heavier smoking, scientists can separate out the effects of the genetic variant via tobacco use from other possible effects associated with carrying that variant that is unrelated to tobacco use.
To simultaneously identify these two types of effects, the researchers used a novel combination of two data analysis approaches and applied them using data from people in the UK Biobank.
They separated people into two groups.
The first contained people, who had never smoked and the second included current and former smokers.The researchers reasoned that the smoking group would reveal the effects of tobacco exposure.