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May 03, 2017 10:15 AM EDT

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Smoking, meanwhile, is one of the leading causes of CHD. Apparently, cigarette use accounts for roughly one-fifth of all reported CHD cases.

Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reveal a molecule that could probably explain the relationship between smoking and heart disease. According to Science Daily, the experts identified the molecule as ADAMTS7. Normally produced in the linings of the blood vessels, any excess in its production may result to the buildup of fatty plaque in coronary arteries.

In the research, the University of Pennsylvania experts discovered that a lot of people have a DNA variation that reduces the creation of ADAMST7. For the record, the lower ADAMST7 supply in the body means lower risks for CHD. However, smoking prevents this benefit.

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Basically, smokers lose the natural protection that slows down the production of the said molecule. Thus, smoking appears to boost ADAMST7. If it reaches an excessive level, CHD is imminent.

Danish Saleheen, the lead author, said in previous statements that the findings of their research may pave the way for the development of novel "therapeutic and preventive" programs for the heart disease. Saleheen, on the other hand, is an assistant professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania. He and his team used data from 29 prior studies, involving over 140,000 samples.

Per News-Medical, Saleheen's study is the largest project to focus on the interaction of genetic variation and smoking. To find clues, the scientists examined 45 small regions of the genome (loci) that had already been linked to abnormal risk of the deadly heart disease. The analysis uncovered that at a certain spot on chromosome 15, a gene close to ADAMST7, 12 percent of CHD risk lowers in non-smokers. On the contrary, smoking enthusiasts only had a five percent lower risk.

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Follows coronary heart disease, heart disease, CHD, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, ADAMST7, causes of coronary heart disease, smoking, smoking health risks, cigarette smoking
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