Lifestyle can determine how effective your medication can be

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Researchers have taken a closer look at how our lifestyle choices, specifically smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption, can significantly influence how effectively our bodies process medications.

This insight comes from a novel study at Aarhus University, which investigated liver samples from 116 individuals who had severe mental illnesses and have passed away.

A significant finding from this research is that many of these individuals were smokers, struggled with alcoholism, or were obese, which had a profound impact on the enzymes in their liver responsible for metabolizing drugs.

For people with severe mental disorders, life expectancy is notably shorter by about 20 years compared to the general population.

This disparity is due to various factors, including a higher likelihood of suicide and a greater prevalence of lifestyle-related conditions like diabetes, obesity, and substance abuse.

Kata Wolff Pedersen, who led the study, points out the importance of understanding how these lifestyle choices affect the body’s drug-metabolizing enzymes.

The efficiency of medication in treating psychiatric conditions could be compromised by changes in enzyme levels brought about by unhealthy lifestyles.

One of the key findings is that smokers’ livers contain double the amount of a specific enzyme (CYP1A2) compared to non-smokers.

This enzyme accelerates the metabolism of certain drugs, such as antipsychotics, meaning smokers may require different dosing to achieve the same therapeutic effect as non-smokers.

This study is pioneering in demonstrating this enzyme increase at the protein level in smokers, highlighting a critical area for medical consideration to ensure effective treatment.

Alcohol consumption was also found to affect the body’s enzyme levels. The study showed that individuals with a history of alcohol use had about 30% more of the enzyme CYP2E1.

With 40% of the study’s participants being registered as alcoholics, this finding underscores the need for tailored drug dosages in this population to avoid reduced medication efficacy.

Conversely, obesity was linked to lower levels of another crucial enzyme, CYP3A4. Individuals with high BMI had significantly less of this enzyme, potentially leading to slower drug metabolism and an increased risk of side effects.

This enzyme is vital for the metabolism of many drugs, suggesting that overweight individuals might not be receiving optimal medication dosages.

This research is significant for its rare access to human liver samples, allowing a direct connection between lifestyle factors and enzyme levels. Previous studies typically relied on animal experiments or test-tube studies, which may not fully represent human physiology.

Additionally, the study explored liver enzyme levels in deceased pigs, finding that enzyme levels remained stable up to a week when refrigerated.

This discovery opens new doors for research in drug metabolism, offering a more straightforward way to obtain and study liver tissues.

Published in the journal Drug Metabolism and Disposition, this research not only sheds light on the intricate relationship between lifestyle choices and medication effectiveness but also highlights the importance of considering individual patient lifestyles in medical treatment plans.

If you care about wellness, please read studies about how ultra-processed foods and red meat influence your longevity, and why seafood may boost healthy aging.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The research findings can be found in Drug Metabolism and Disposition.

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