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Biotech Science

Nicotine Is the New Wonder Drug 439

Fantastic Lad sends us to Wired for a story on the upside of nicotine. Researchers are developing drugs based on nicotine that may prove beneficial for brains, bowels, blood vessels and immune systems. "Nicotine acts on the acetylcholine receptors in the brain, stimulating and regulating the release of a slew of brain chemicals, including seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Now drugs derived from nicotine and the research on nicotine receptors are in clinical trials for everything from helping to heal wounds, to depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety." A separate story talks about nicotine warding off Parkinson's disease.
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Nicotine Is the New Wonder Drug

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  • Suspicious at best. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by John Pfeiffer ( 454131 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:55AM (#19811447) Homepage
    This certainly sounds too good to be true. Makes me wonder who's funding the research.
    • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:59AM (#19811481)
      Phillip Morris Healthcare
      • <sarcasm>
        But they're a "family" company. That's what the commercials say! That means we can "trust" them right?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Cro Magnon ( 467622 )
          Of course we can trust them! Their ads say so, and trustworthy people don't lie.
        • by itlurksbeneath ( 952654 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:34AM (#19812999) Journal
          The Mansons were a family too... They don't have many commercials, though.
          • Not Sure Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by severoon ( 536737 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @01:16PM (#19815305) Journal

            I'm not sure why this is so hard for some people to swallow. Most drugs that have such an obvious and strong effect on people and have been tested on millions with few adverse effects (all the bad effects of smoking come mostly from the smoke + chronic use—the nicotine merely makes it addictive) usually yield other valuable research output.

            I don't see any reason to let emotional value judgments get in the way of potentially valuable medical applications. Let's turn that frown upside down and make a negative into a positive!

            Disclaimer: No I'm not a drug company representative nor a smoking advocate.

    • by canUbeleiveIT ( 787307 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:04AM (#19811519)
      I guess that you're intimating that the cigarette companies are pushing this.

      I'm sure that it won't be administered via a cigarette because the delivery system is important too. In the case of cigarettes, the delivery mechanism causes more harm than the nicotine helps. After all, antibiotics are good medicine but you wouldn't administer them by putting them on the tip of a knitting needle and jamming it into your eyeball.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:14AM (#19811595)
        Depends on who I was administering it to...
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by broggyr ( 924379 )
        **but you wouldn't administer them by putting them on the tip of a knitting needle and jamming it into your eyeball**

        Thanks - I nearly gave my keyboard a coffee shower; truly made me LOL. Good show!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by gardyloo ( 512791 )

          Thanks - I nearly gave my keyboard a coffee shower; truly made me LOL. Good show!
          Recent research has shown that computer parts truly appreciate coffee showers, as they provide new pathways for carrier electrons. To REALLY stimulate your electronics, though, give them coffee enemas!
      • I'm sure that it won't be administered via a cigarette because the delivery system is important too. In the case of cigarettes, the delivery mechanism causes more harm than the nicotine helps. After all, antibiotics are good medicine but you wouldn't administer them by putting them on the tip of a knitting needle and jamming it into your eyeball.

        That is quite simply the best analogy ever.
      • by LS ( 57954 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:52AM (#19811913) Homepage
        Who said that cigarettes had to be the delivery mechanism? I'm sure cigarette companies have a large stake in tobacco farms, and may even own them. Seeing the heavy legislation and the decline in smoking, they are doing what any well-run company would do, which is to pursue other markets. The nicotine has to come from somewhere.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cerberusss ( 660701 )

        antibiotics are good medicine but you wouldn't administer them by putting them on the tip of a knitting needle and jamming it into your eyeball.
        Arrrr, why'dya think I is wearing them eyepatch, laddy??
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by B3ryllium ( 571199 )
        I think Jack Bauer might disagree with you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This certainly sounds too good to be true. Makes me wonder who's funding the research.

      Actually, according to TFA (you did RTFA, right? Nevermind, "I must be new here" ;), the company doing the research was founded by a guy who used to work for RJ Reynolds. RJR retains a 4% stake in the company.

      Still, why poo poo the research just because its linked to RJR? It's not like they're trying to use it to sell cigarettes here ... they're developing drugs based on a modified nicotine. Sounds good to me.



    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MacDork ( 560499 )

      This certainly sounds too good to be true. Makes me wonder who's funding the research.

      With a response like that, it makes me wonder if you even care if the research is accurate.

    • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:03AM (#19812009)
      ,,,but breathing in tar and particulate matter does not. And even if they find some beneficial uses for nicotene, its use must still be weighed against its effects as an addictive stimulant, including constricting the arteries and making people more susceptible to stroke and heart attacks.

      No matter what uses they find for nicotene, you're not going to suddenly make smoking healthy, so it wouldn't matter even if the tobacco industry was funding this.
  • Oh great (Score:5, Funny)

    by BlackCobra43 ( 596714 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:57AM (#19811461)
    Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in.

    Stop making me smoke you damned scientists!
  • Oh great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:57AM (#19811467)
    quit smoking after 15 years. What a bitch. And NOW they say that the nicotine is good?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I think they are planning on modified nicotine. Anyway, considering all the stuff in cigarettes, I don't think nicotine is the worst part - it's just the part that makes it hard for you to quit.

      Well, in the quantities present, it's not the worst part, but put a drop of that stuff on your tongue, and it's all over.
      • Re:Oh great (Score:4, Insightful)

        by value_added ( 719364 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:49AM (#19811887)
        I think they are planning on modified nicotine. Anyway, considering all the stuff in cigarettes, I don't think nicotine is the worst part - it's just the part that makes it hard for you to quit.

        Personally, I think the idea of modified nicotine may hold promise for many, but for those who smoke, the concept is somewhat akin to taking caffeine tablets instead of enjoying (or sharing ) that great cup of coffee. To the extent it works, life becomes a little bit less enjoyable. And less social.

        I smoke. Not because I suffer from an addiction to nicotine, or an innability to change any number of related habits, but because I choose to. And I derive great pleasure from it for a large number of reasons. I have, on occasion, cut back, or stopped entirely for weeks or months at a time, but I think that was due in most part to suffering the effects of a good habit gone bad. Too much of anything is bad (or bad for you, if you prefer). The ability to make that distinction is important.

        The benefits of nicotine for those suffering schizophrenia I found notable. Anyone familiar with the disease knows that smoking "relaxes" schizophrenics. I have a family member who has suffered from schizophrenia for most of his life. Watching him suffer from the disease is one thing, but seeing him endure the effects of the varying regimen of (mostly ineffective) drugs was even more painful. Personally, I'd prefer that he have a cigarette from time to time to make his (and others) life more bearable.

        For anyone that has opinions on smoking that borders on the hysterical, I'd suggest they lighten up. Or better still, light up once in a while. There are many things in life that are good for you in small amounts, but dangerous or poisonous at higher levels. Put another way, you'd be better served by not moralising your (and everyone else's) choices and instead, pick your favourite poison and enjoy it responsibly. Besides, what else are you going to do after sex? Peel an orange?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by SpacePunk ( 17960 )
          Besides, what else are you going to do after sex? Peel an orange?

          Your suppose to cuddle and talk about your feelings.

          (I'm a guy, did I get that right? Was it convincing?)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Phat_Tony ( 661117 )
        "Anyway, considering all the stuff in cigarettes, I don't think nicotine is the worst part"

        That's right. News flash to Slashdot, nicotine != cigarettes. Every time nicotine comes up, people think it causes lung cancer or heart disease or other ridiculous things. No, smoking causes those. Nicotine doesn't. In fact, some benefits of nicotine have been known for a long time. Of course it's an effective stimulant and makes people feel good. It can make people work more productively. But more importantly, it'
    • Did anyone ever say nicotine was bad for you? They (which is a weasel word) have said smoking is, but I don't believe nicotine.
      • Re:Oh great (Score:5, Interesting)

        by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:05AM (#19812027) Journal
        Well, nicotine is a tremendously addictive substance, like heroin, and a powerful stimulant to the body. It screws around with the all kinds of chemical receptors in the brain, including the ones that allow you to feel good. This is why a smoker in need of a fix is usually irritable and grumpy before taking that first sweet drag.

        But, you are right, the real danger with smoking is, well, smoking all the other shit that's in cigarettes - the nicotine is a secondary concern. The danger of the nicotine in cigarettes is the fact that it keeps you addicted.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by duguk ( 589689 )
      I gave up on Sunday and NOW this comes up? C'mon guys, be fair! Its hard enough as it is!
    • Exactly. Also, it's not like I needed some researcher to tell me that nicotine helps prevent anger, depression, and anxiety. Oh well, quit after about 12 years and I'm guessing that the "modified nicotine in a pill" is going to be more expensive than my old pack of Camels.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) *
      You also don't eat moldy oranges if you have a bacteria infection. You don't drink rusty water if you have an iron defiancy. Smoking is a horible way of reaping any benefits of nicotine, first you get an uneven doses of it that is difficult to measure, there is tar that sticks to your lungs, There are a bunch of other hazardous chemicals that are released from the burning process. The same for "Medical" Marjuna, they give you a joint to smoke. That is stupid unmedical it is only an excuse to take the dr
    • Re:Oh great (Score:4, Funny)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:35AM (#19812319)
      For all those who bitched about breathing my second hand smoke: You're welcome.
  • by tygerstripes ( 832644 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:00AM (#19811491)
    ... if you're undertaking clinical trials with these drugs in the UK - don't do it in public enclosed spaces.
  • Of course it offsets the chance that you catch some other disease... if you consider the chances you will die of lung cancer before you catch something else.
    • Re:Of course it does (Score:5, Informative)

      by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:04AM (#19811527)
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that while the nicotine makes quitting smoking hard to do, its health effect is not as great as that of the other substances in smoke such as tar. That's what gives you lung cancer, not the nicotine itself.
      • Unfortnately, cancers are the most horrible but not the only way cigarettes can kill you. If I remember well, nicotine does something to your blood vessels that favors heart attacks and strokes.
        • by MoonFog ( 586818 )
          Well, nicotine is indeed a very toxic substance, according to Wikipedia even more toxic than cocaine. On the other hand, lethal substances are used all the time as medicine, it all comes down to how much you administer compared to the level required to reach the lethal or damaging effect. I assume further testing on this will reveal if nicotine in levels that are helpful with the issues mentioned in the summary also provide a different health risk. However, the grand parent (and several others in this threa
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by runderwo ( 609077 )
          Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor. When your arteries are already clogged and hardened, it has the potential to turn disease into death.

          But the real problem is in how nicotine works together with carbon monoxide to destroy your heart. When your body takes in carbon monoxide, oxygen distribution becomes less efficient. The heart muscle specifically requires a continuous supply of oxygen to sustain itself. When you smoke a cigarette, at the same time you're taking in carbon monoxide, the nicotine is also co

      • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that while the nicotine makes quitting smoking hard to do, its health effect is not as great as that of the other substances in smoke such as tar. That's what gives you lung cancer, not the nicotine itself.

        That is mostly true. Wikipedia says

        The currently available literature indicates that nicotine, on its own, does not promote the development of cancer in healthy tissue and has no mutagenic properties. However, nicotine and the increased cholinergic

  • by LordBafford ( 1087463 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:10AM (#19811573) Homepage
    I can kind of vouch for this. Usually when I have my first smoke of the day I have to use the can soon after. I always thought they just put laxatives in cigarettes..
  • Wait ..... (Score:4, Funny)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsh[ ] ['od.' in gap]> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:11AM (#19811575)
    So fags are good for you now?

    Just make sure that report wasn't signed by anybody named Benson or Hedges!
  • 'medicine' (Score:2, Informative)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 )
    Nicotine is a toxin. Heck it's more toxic that arsenic and roughly the same toxicity of cyanide (roughly 50mg). Something as dangerous as that shouldn't be prescribed for non-life threatening situations (smoking can be considered life threatening).
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Come on cartoon camels smoke them. How dangerous could cigarettes be?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bradmacd ( 860925 )
      Most things are toxic at some level, be it 50mg or 500mg. If you take too much tylenol it can kill you. That doesn't mean that at low doses its not useful.

      And also, they are not saying smoking is healthy, they are investigating the properties of nicotine and how it affects the brain. Smoking is not the only method of getting nicotine into the body. If they can isolate helpful effects of the drug, maybe it can do some good.
      • Is there anything that isn't toxic in extreme levels? The human body is really quite fragile when you consider it.

        People have died from overdosing on most over-the-counter drugs. I have heard that Vitamin C is even toxic in extreme levels. If you are in the arctic, and live purely off of Rabbit meat, it is toxic (protein poisoning). Even water can kill you if you drink too much of it (kidney overload?)? Correct me if I am wrong, but I can't think of anything that isn't toxic in the improper quantitie
    • Re:'medicine' (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:31AM (#19811731) Journal
      You're overreacting. It's all about the dosage and usage.

      Lots of people go for botox treatments, and allegedly some of them end up looking better ;).

      People consume poisons all the time - capsaicin (in spicy foods), cyanide (in almonds), caffeine, and nicotine. Chrysanthemum is often made into a tea, but it contains pyrethrum which is a "natural pesticide".

      In fact, it may be that a lot of smokers are dying more due to the radioactivity than the nicotine or tar.

      wiki: "One study found that tobacco grown in India averaged only 0.09 pCi per gram of polonium 210, whereas tobacco grown in the United States averaged 0.516 pCi per gram."

      "In support of this hypothetical link between radioactive elements in tobacco and cancer is the observation that bladder cancer incidence is also proportional to the amount of tobacco smoked, even though nonradioactive carcinogens have not been detected in the urine of even heavy smokers; however, urine of smokers contains about six times more polonium 210 than that of nonsmokers, suggesting strongly that the polonium 210 is the cause of the bladder carcinogenicity, and would be expected to act similarly in the lungs and other tissue."
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vigmeister ( 1112659 )

        One study found that tobacco grown in India averaged only 0.09 pCi per gram of polonium 210, whereas tobacco grown in the United States averaged 0.516 pCi per gram.
        Quick guide to Indian tobacco:
        If you're poor, smoke beedis (unflavored ones); If you're rich, Trichnopoly cigars (Woraiyur suruttu used to be an excellent choice).
        The first is probably available at your local Indian store and the second at elite tobacconists'.


    • Many medical products can be lethal at relatively small dosage but they are used everyday because, when handled correctly, they are benefical and relatively safe, so I see no reason not to consider using nicotine as a medication the same way we use morphine.

      For an addicted smoker, on the other hand, the nicotine fix is not that different from heroine addiction, with of course the notable and fortunate exception that nicotine addiction rarely triggers criminal or short term destructive behaviors.
    • They are not saying smoking is good for you. They are just saying nicotine may have benefits in certain circumstance. Coca leaves also may have some benefit, but no is is advocating crack as a cure-all. So may red wine, but that also doesn't mean drowning yourself in moonshine is better because it has more alcohol.

      The human body is way too complicated for simplistic analysis.

      BTW, I heard that if you are taking one cigarette and put it in a glass of water (cigarette tea), that drinking it can kill you. S
  • Daydream (Score:4, Funny)

    by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:21AM (#19811643) Homepage
    Go away! Don't you have work to do?


    Can't take a smoke break in peace anymore, with all these health nuts trying to get a free lungful of nicotine.

  • The real problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stormi ( 837687 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:36AM (#19811769) Journal
    The idea is that nicotine releases happy chemicals in your brain. I think we've already known this for a while - it's why it's so hard to quit smoking. Now they are realizing that happy chemicals can treat some psychological disorders. Plausible. However, there is a problem with this theory that we've recognized for a long time. When we artifically create these chemicals in the brain via medications or other chemicals and drugs, we get used to having the feeling. Then, in ordinary situations where we are supposed to experience happiness (ex. a day off, a sunny day, a good dessert, a good song) we don't feel anything. This leads further into depression because people literally cannot find happiness in activities they once found enjoyable. Any of the "happy chemicals" that might go off naturaly are so negligible compared to the constant chemicals caused by the drugs that the good experiences may just as well have never happened. So, nicotine makes you happy? Probably. Can help with certain mental disorders? Again, probably. But should it be used / is it the best solution? That is what's debatable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mutterc ( 828335 )

      Antidepressants don't make you artificially happy. The best evidence for this is that they have no street value - if they got you high, there would be a black market.

  • There is nothing new about nicotine. Maybe these particular findings are new, but it has had many uses (most notably as a toxin []) in pest management for a long time.
  • better than SSRI? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:38AM (#19811793) Homepage Journal
    I had a bout of depression last year and I saw a psychiatrist. I went over my life history. At the end of the session, he recommended a cocktail of 3 different drugs! Apparently because I had had a manic episode once in my life when I was in high-school, I was a manic-depressive. I needed one drug for the depression, one for the mania, and some other one. Jesus Christ.

    I stopped seeing him. I was looking into 'legal' highs for depression, such as St. John's Wort and

    Since I also had problems concentrating, I tried smoking for the nicotine. I found that it really helped with my anxiety. I took a smoke after work, I relaxed, and then moved my bowels. I felt calm and focused rather than frenzied and harried. Things were right on course instead of all over the place. I've since given it up, however, since I started coughing.

    I know smoking destroys your lungs gives you cancer after decades. My maternal grandparents died of cancers in their 60s, probably from smoking. All the people I try to turn on to smoking tell me that. But what are the long-term effects of taking anti-depression or anti-anxiety medication for decades.

    It seems to me that cigarettes are a relatively cheap and simple anti-depressant. Although there are long term health consequences, we don't really know what the damage is from decades of wellbutrin. Of course, Big Pharma would rather have us rely on them for anti-depressants than use a simple plant that we could grow ourselves... Hey, that sounds familiar.
    • I've since given it up, however, since I started coughing.

      There *are* other ways of absorbing nicotine. Smokeless tobaccos are still carcinogenic, but are a lot safer [] for you than smoking are.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Oswald ( 235719 )
      I doubt the cough was in your lungs--more likely in your head. I smoked for 14 years, sometimes over a pack per day, and I never developed a cough. Only the puffingest of my friends started coughing before their forties. On the other hand, the patch is a lot safer. If the dose they deliver is too big you could cut them into smaller pieces and save money too.

      Not that that's as much fun as smoking. I gave it up for my health, but I loved every butt I ever smoked. If I'm ever diagnosed with a terminal d

    • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:42AM (#19812389) Homepage

      I stopped seeing him. I was looking into 'legal' highs for depression, such as St. John's Wort and

      Since I also had problems concentrating,
      That's gold! Seriously, you just can't write comedy like that intentionally.
  • Oh ya... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:47AM (#19811865) Homepage Journal
    Buy it at a corner store and smoke it, it's teh evil!!!!one!!!

    Extract the same stuff, put it in pills and tablets, and sell it for a bajillion more, it's medicine.
  • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:47AM (#19811867) Journal
    They're planning on using Nicotine as a basis for new drugs by using similar structures to target receptors in the brain and slow, pause or reverse diseases like parkinsons.

    Alternatively they're looking at cremes which can be used to promote blood flow to parts of the body (begin Viagra jokes now please). Mostly as a way to prevent Diabetic amputations which means its better for the health care system since they wont have to chop off as many legs which means less people in wheelchairs and such.

    It's not endorsing that people go light up. Just that they can probably make these things new drugs and get them in 'patch form' in the future (because lets face it lighting up a cigarette is not the best method of administering such a drug)

    Maybe they'll start working with Marijuana again.
  • I second (Score:2, Funny)

    by jfekendall ( 1121479 )
    ...the benefits of nicotine when it comes to ADD. I can actually concentrate now. The only downside is the yellowed teeth thing. I suppose yellow is the new white.
  • "There will be great progress when the nicotine sister drugs come to market," he says. "About half the cigarettes in this country are bought by people with psychiatric problems -- high percentages of people with depression and schizophrenia smoke, for example.
    Wow, about a quarter of people smoke so 12% of people have psychiatric problems.
  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:05AM (#19812031)
    What they are doing is looking at drugs which are derivatives of nicotine. Thus they can patent them and charge you $5/pill.
  • We're going to replace a $2.50 pack of cigarettes with a $400 bottle of pills, and declare victory! I would be more than willing to bet that even if you factor in the eventual risk cost of cancer and other smoking related diseases, it might still come in cheaper than the cost of exotic drugs based on nicotine. The moral of the story is, smoke up to avoid depression, and hope science comes up with a cheaper pill to cure cancer.
  • by bodland ( 522967 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:28AM (#19812241) Homepage
    Packaged in a 20 dose per container. New fashionable "inhaler" delivery system. Regular, 100 and 120 mg sizes. To take the new drugs you light the end of the inhaler tube and inhale the refreshing vapor. The dose burns with a pleasing aroma and relaxing patterns of vapor. 20 doses, take as needed 20 times per day or more. Packed in soft of hard pack box and cartons. Available at most gas stations. Menthol and other flavors available. NOW over the counter!

    Welcome to a healthy new you.
  • Tourettes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SlightOverdose ( 689181 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:49AM (#19812469)
    I've been using Nicotine as a treatment for Tourettes syndrome for a few months now, and can quite honestly say It's saved my life. The only other treatments are incredibly severe drugs with worse side effects than the illness itself, and I was damn near suicidal for a while contemplating life with an untreatable movement disorder.

    Then on some forum advice I tried a nicotine patch. Within an hour it had a noticeable affect, and within 3 hours there was an almost complete reduction in symptoms. I also found it had a similar affect with OCD and ADD (Although I'm not formally diagnosed with the latter, I found I could concentrate far better with a nicotine patch)

  • The "Separate Story" (Score:5, Informative)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:23AM (#19812857) Journal
    The separate story referred to on the lead article is not about nicotine, it's about smoking. My dissertation was based on showing that at least one substance that prevented Parkinson's was active in the brains of smokers despite 8+ hours of abstinence (reduction of plasma nicotine levels to less than 1% of usual). I tested smokers abstaining and after smoking either a normal cigarette or one made from denicotinized tobacco and found no difference between conditions or groups. Nicotine or lack thereof had nothing to do with the EEG signature of chronic increased dopamine levels compared to non-smokers (which was the study I did prior to my diss). This work, and that of the folks in the chemistry department that isolated and synthesized the hypothesized active component, was what was referred to in "Thank You For Smoking". And to preempt any conclusion jumping, this doesn't mean you should smoke. Knowing what the substance is (trimethyl naphthoquinone) and how it works (dopamine releaser and reuptake blocker as well as MAO inhibitor) means it or something that does the same thing can be developed and used without needing tobacco in the process.

    The carbon monoxide effect has some merit too. CO in the blood scavenges excess hyperoxides, a source of oxidative stress which is a known cause of Parkinson's and other apparent autoimmune problems. As above, you don't need to smoke to get the effect and can obviously find other things to do the same job. They're called anti-oxidants.

    Nicotine may well also have some other protective effect, but it doesn't prevent mitochondrial MPTP from turning into MPP+, a very potent neurotoxin that causes Parkinsonian apoptosis. To read up on the mechanism, look up the "frozen addicts". As an interesting aside, at least one of them was all but completely cured in weeks using injected stem cells before the fundies got ahold of the concept and strangled it.
  • Exams (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gunark ( 227527 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:14AM (#19813575)
    One of my neuroscience profs used to tell us before exams that if we smoke, we should smoke more. Apparently nicotine's cholinergic effects considerably boost memory, although for me the nausea and jitteriness probably undermine any positive effects (and then there's the cancer...)
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:04PM (#19815981)
    1. The Filter. --One of the more harmful elements in cigarette smoking is the filter; loose fibers from the filter which are .3 microns in length have the remarkable ability to lodge in your lungs and never come out again. Much like asbestos, this can cause problems. Unlike asbestos, fibers from cigarette filters also come coated with toxins in smoke tar. I recently read a study, (blowed if I can find it again), which found that small cancers in the lungs typically had a tar-coated filter fiber at their center.

    2. Additives. --In looking at the toxicity issue with regard to tobacco, I have noted that it is incredibly common for people to ignore the fact that cigarette companies use an assortment of 500 additives into their products, many of which are known carcinogens. [] When studies are done on the toxicity of tobacco smoke, this detail is often left unmentioned. Are they testing tobacco per se, or are they testing corporate tobacco?

    3. Radioactive tobacco leaves. --Your basic cigarette probably came from a farm which used phosphate fertilizer, known to contain radioactive metals []. After years of use, these radioactive metals build up in the soil to high concentrations. Many foods are similarly affected, but you don't smoke most foods. This element of tobacco is considered by those who have studied the issue to be one of the leading reasons smoking can cause cancer.

    You can buy organic tobacco, [] and you can smoke it in a pipe. No filter, no deliberately added poisons and no radioactive particles. I wonder if they've ever done health tests on this kind of tobacco smoke.

    Probably not.

    Here are some more points. . .

    1. Pavlovian Responses to stress indicate that when you raise the anxiety level in a subject to the breaking point, you can then easily insert a new set of behaviors which become locked into place. . .

    Pavlov demonstrated that when Transmarginal Inhibition began to take over a dog, a condition similar to hysteria in a human manifested. The applications of these findings to human psychology suggest that for a "conversion" to be effective, it is necessary to work on the subject's emotions until s/he reaches an abnormal condition of fear, anger or exaltation. If such a state is maintained or intensified by any of various means, hysteria is the result. In a state of hysteria, a human being is abnormally suggestible and influences in the environment can cause one set of behavior patterns to be replaced by another without any need for persuasive indoctrination. In states of fear and excitement, normally sensible human beings will accept the most wildly improbably suggestions. [. . .] Most of Pavlov's findings applicable to Mind Control are reported in a series of Pavlov's later lectures translated by Horsley Gantt, published in Great Britain and the United States in 1941 under the title "Conditioned Reflexes and Psychiatry." [5] Professor Y. P. Frolov's book about these experiments, Pavlov and His School [6] has also been translated into English. Article here []

    2. Tobacco smoke quickly lowers stress and anxiety and feelings of anger. It is one of the only two commonly used drugs on the market which while increasing clarity of thinking does not affect judgment. (Caffeine is the other). Old native bands meeting to discuss problems would all first smoke before opening their meeting, (hence, the "peace pipe"). Tobacco lent itself well to averting unnecessary anger and anxiety. In a world like ours today when fear is regularly promoted in such a way which guides the decisions and acceptance of the public with regard to international policy, knowledge

  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @03:21PM (#19816871)
    From the article: ...and they're inspired by tobacco's deadly active ingredient: nicotine.

    Nicotine is one of the least dangerous ingredients of tobacco smoke. People think nicotine is this horrible thing. Granted, it is somewhat addictive, but not terribly addictive. I say that as someone who's smoked for over 20 years and has tried to quit a number of times. I can easily break the "nicotine addiction" aspect of it. That only takes a couple days. It's the habit of smoking that's a bitch. I can go without nicotine for weeks or months (well beyond the time it takes to break the addiction), but it's the psychological habit I can't seem to kick.

    Nicotine has a number of pharmacological properties that can be beneficial, however, so it's no surprise that nicotine derivatives might be found that can also have positive effects.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by macraig ( 621737 )
      Since when was nicotine bad for you? How about since the first plant synthesized it as a biological poison, to be used as a defense against insects and competing plants?

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur