857 Citations (Scopus)


Tobacco and alcohol use are leading causes of mortality that influence risk for many complex diseases and disorders 1 . They are heritable 2,3 and etiologically related 4,5 behaviors that have been resistant to gene discovery efforts 6–11 . In sample sizes up to 1.2 million individuals, we discovered 566 genetic variants in 406 loci associated with multiple stages of tobacco use (initiation, cessation, and heaviness) as well as alcohol use, with 150 loci evidencing pleiotropic association. Smoking phenotypes were positively genetically correlated with many health conditions, whereas alcohol use was negatively correlated with these conditions, such that increased genetic risk for alcohol use is associated with lower disease risk. We report evidence for the involvement of many systems in tobacco and alcohol use, including genes involved in nicotinic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic neurotransmission. The results provide a solid starting point to evaluate the effects of these loci in model organisms and more precise substance use measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number2
Early online date14 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Alcohol Drinking/genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation/genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study/methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Risk
  • Smoking/genetics
  • Tobacco Use Disorder/genetics
  • Tobacco/adverse effects

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)

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