Tag Archives: nicotine study

There May be a Very Good Reason Why Coffee and Cigarettes Often Seem to go Hand in Hand

A Kansas State University psychology professor’s research suggests that nicotine’s power may be in how it enhances other experiences.

For a smoker who enjoys drinking coffee, the nicotine may make a cup of joe even better.

And that offer another explaination why smoking is so hard to quit.

“People have very regimented things they do when they smoke,” said Matthew Palmatier, assistant professor of psychology at K-State. “If you think about where people smoke or who they smoke with, you realize that it occurs in very specific places, often with a specific group of people.

Maybe it’s a reason why nicotine is so addictive — if you get used to having that extra satisfaction from things you normally enjoy, not having nicotine could reduce the enjoyment in a given activity.

“People may not be smoking to obtain a pleasurable drug state. They may be smoking in order to regulate their mood, and that effect could make nicotine more addictive than other drugs.”

Palmatier said much previous research on nicotine addiction has looked at the drug itself rather than the other factors he is studying.

“The approach we’re taking is out of left field,” he said. “But it seems to be one of the best explanations as to why people smoke.”

Palmatier has a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to understand how this phenomenon can be used to better design tobacco addiction treatments, usually offered in stop smoking aids, like patches and pills. He began psychological research in addiction as a graduate student and later began researching the reinforcing effects of nicotine.

Coffee and Cigarettes“The big picture is trying to figure out why people smoke,” Palmatier said. “There are a lot of health risks, and the majority of smokers already know what they are. They want to quit but can’t. It’s not because nicotine is a potent drug; it doesn’t induce significant amounts of pleasure or euphoria. Yet, it’s just as difficult if not more difficult to quit than other drugs.”

At K-State, Palmatier studies rats that are allowed to self-administer nicotine by pushing a lever. The main source of light in their testing environment shuts off when the rats earn a dose of nicotine. After about a minute, the light comes back on to signal that more nicotine is available.

By manipulating this signal, Palmatier and his colleagues found that the rats weren’t really that interested in nicotine by itself.

“We figured out that what the rats really liked was turning the light off,” Palmatier said. “They still self-administered the nicotine, but they took more of the drug when it was associated with a reinforcing light.”

Palmatier and colleagues published a paper on their research in the August issue of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Palmatier has begun looking at how rats respond to sweet tastes after having nicotine. He said preliminary results show that nicotine has comparable effects on sweet tastes. That is, rats respond more for sugar-water solutions after getting nicotine.

“The taste aspect is really important because we can actually figure out how nicotine is increasing the subjects’ behavior,” Palmatier said. “If it makes a reward more pleasurable, then it may increase the palatability of a sweet taste.”

Palmatier said that a future phase of research would be determining whether nicotine can make unpleasant experiences more tolerable, helping explain why lighting up after a bad day at work can be tempting.

Contact: Beth Bohn
Kansas State University

Toenails Reveal All

Your toes tell it all, ladies.

Toenail clippings can provide evidence of tobacco exposure and help explain the risk of heart disease, at least in women, according to a unique study from the University of California-San Diego and Harvard University.

The medical researchers examined levels of nicotine in toenails of 905 women who were diagnosed with coronary heart disease from 1984 through 1998.

The women were among the 62,641 participants in the Nurse’s Health Study. Those with heart disease were randomly matched to two other participants by age and by the date that their toenails were collected.

The twenty percent of women who had the highest nicotine levels in their toenails turned out to have more than triple the risk of being diagnosed with heart disease as those whose levels put them in the lowest twenty percent. The risk remained significantly higher after the researchers took smoking into account, adjusting for the number of cigarettes smoked as well as exposure to second hand smoke.

Women's Toenails“Using toenail nicotine is a novel way to objectively measure exposure to tobacco smoke, and ultimately, to increase our understanding of tobacco-related illness, said Wael Al-Delaimy, of UC-San Diego’s department of family and preventive medicine, lead author of the study published this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology. “This would be especially helpful in situations where smoking history is not available or is biased.”

Source: Josh Goldstein, The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Truth About Smoking Cigars Whether You Inhale or Not

According to the American Cancer Society, studies show that cigars are just as bad for you as cigarettes.

Researchers found that cancer risks increased dramatically for those who smoke three cigars daily, and even more for those who inhale when they light up.

The study also shows that cigars themselves are changing. “PH levels of cigars are indeed changing,” says Eric Jacobs, study author and researcher for the Cancer Society’s department of epidemiology and surveillance research. “While the pH of cigars has always been higher than cigarettes, pH varies greatly between cigar types. Higher pH levels mean the smoke may contain more free ammonia, and while it’s more difficult to inhale, the nicotine absorption rate is substantially higher.”

What Are the Risks of Smoking Cigars?

  • A 500 percent increase in lung cancer for inhalers and a 300 percent increase for non-inhaling cigar smokers.
  • A 1,000 percent increase in cancer of the larynx.
  • A 400 percent increase in cancer of the oral cavity/pharynx.
  • A 270 percent increase in pancreatic cancer for inhalers.
  • A 360 percent increase in bladder cancer for inhalers.

Smoking a Cigar“The take home message from all this is that cigar smoking is much more lethal than we ever believed,” Jacobs said. “Whether you light up or not, whether you inhale or not, cigars carry the same risks that cigarettes do.” He adds, “Cigar smoking is not cool or glamorous. It can kill you.”

And the secondhand smoke is just as dangerous.

Click to learn more about > American Cancer Society.