Neanderthals DNA to blame for depression and smoking habit

According to a new study, DNA inherited from Neanderthals is linked to risk of becoming depressed or get addicted to smoking. The DNA is linked to the conditions but does not create those conditions.

The team of researchers found evidence that one bit of Neanderthal DNA can increase the risk of tobacco addiction while another was linked to increased or decreased risk of being diagnosed with depression.Tony Capra, an evolutionary geneticist at Vanderbilt University said that studying DNA from Neanderthals may lead to increased understating of biological roots of some diseases.

The research is a new in a series of studies aimed at studying the Neanderthal genetic heritage in modern humans. Earlier studied have shown that the DNA from Neanderthal is linked to risk of allergies and other aspects. Experts said that Neanderthals and modern people went on their separate paths on the evolutionary tree hundreds of thousands of years ago.

They also found that the ancestors of modern humans interbred with Neanderthals about 50,000 years ago after leaving the African continent and this has infused DNA in linages. They found that people of Asian or European ancestry have around 2 per cent DNA from Neanderthals.

The study was released Thursday by the journal Science.