Study: Neanderthal DNA may influence modern depression risk

NEW YORK -- A new study says a person's risk of becoming depressed or hooked on smoking may be influenced by DNA inherited from Neanderthals.

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Researchers found evidence that one bit of Neanderthal DNA can boost the risk of tobacco addiction, while others can slightly raise or lower the risk of being diagnosed with depression.

Modern people with European or Asian roots carry a tiny bit of Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors interbred with Neanderthals about 50,000 year ago. Scientists say studying the effect of that genetic legacy may help them understand the biology of some diseases.

The new work was based on analyzing medical records and genetic information of about 28,000 Americans. It was released Thursday by the journal Science.



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