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New research suggests people with common genetic mutations have an almost eightfold increased risk of dying from cocaine abuse. The mutations affect the chemical messenger dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is vital to the functioning of the central nervous system. Cocaine blocks transporters in the brain from absorbing dopamine, HealthDay reports.

The mutations are found on two genes. The Ohio State University researchers found about one in three white people who died of cocaine abuse had these genetic mutations. A different combination of mutations affects the risk of dying from cocaine abuse in black people, the researchers noted in a news release.

The study appears in the journal Translational Psychiatry.


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