Two years ago, possibly unintentionally, a Tobacco Control person admitted what smokers and vapers have suspected all along.

The following pithy paragraph appeared in a Daily Mail article ‘Nicotine is good for you …’ dated December 15, 2013. I’ve highlighted it to show the bogus science surrounding nicotine and tobacco/tobacco-derivative use:

A spokeswoman for Cancer Research added: ‘We don’t fully understand the long-term effects of nicotine use.’

No kidding.

For every study showing positive benefits from nicotine, another shows a negative. And, for those positive benefits, such as the ones mentioned in the Mail, there is always the caveat to stop smoking (emphases mine below):

Professor John Britton, chairman of the Royal College of Physicians tobacco advisory group and professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said one hit of nicotine can have positive effects on the brain.

But he warned the drug is highly addictive

I wrote about this last October, recapping earlier research showing that nicotine is for the thinking man:

Nicotine benefits the brain in several ways

Those who are fearful because of Tobacco Control’s propaganda can rest more easily after reading these posts:

The truth behind the smoker’s lung pictures — they’re fake

Medical data show smoking does NOT cause lung cancer (known since 1985)

Medical benefits of nicotine and a few thoughts on Tobacco Control

‘Biased’ findings

Every time a positive study on nicotine appears, Tobacco Control and the media say it was funded by tobacco companies. A post on the io9 site states that the University of California San Francisco — probably Stanton Glantz‘s* department — has looked at financing behind studies showing nicotine helps to prevent Alzheimer’s:

In 2010, a group from UCSF compared 43 studies on smoking and Alzheimer’s disease and found one-quarter of them were funded by tobacco groups.

Therefore, this means 75% of studies concluding that nicotine use may ward off Alzheimer’s were financed by groups with no conflict of interest.

*Note for non-smokers: Stanton Glantz is the father of the Tobacco Control movement.

More benefits from nicotine

Below is a summary of more benefits from nicotine, which can be delivered via e-cigarettes as well as tobacco. Hard as it is for most of the world to believe, some people smoke or vape for health reasons.

Mental health

An article in the Canadian edition of the Huffington Post discusses the need for e-cigarettes in psychiatric hospitals. Until recently, cigarettes have been made available to patients to calm their nerves:

Those devices might help alleviate some of the deficits associated with schizophrenia …

Depression

E-cigarette Direct’s Ashtray Blog has an article on the benefits of nicotine, many of which are covered in this post from other sources.

That said, the article mentions nicotine’s beneficial effect on depression:

Smoking to improve one’s mood has been a controversial subject, but one study conducted in 2006 confirmed that nicotine led to a significant decline in depression and an improvement in symptoms of depression (source).

This is thought to be due to nicotine stimulating areas of the brain, resulting in the release of serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals lacking in people who have depression.

Observations have shown that those prone to depression are twice as likely to be smokers and are less likely to succeed in quitting, possibly due to these therapeutic effects of nicotine.

ADHD

The same article says that ADHD patients benefit from nicotine:

Studies have shown that nicotine can alleviate the symptoms of ADHD by increasing an individual’s alertness, reducing muscle activity (and thus restlessness/impulsiveness), calming the patient and elevating their mood (source, source).

Of course, no one is suggesting children take up smoking or vaping, but some studies are hoping to develop better treatments which have similar benefits to nicotine (source).

Parkinson’s disease

Research summarised in Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience says that nicotine may help to lessen the negative aspects of Parkinson’s disease (PD):

Nicotine, the more studied alkaloid derived from tobacco, is considered to be responsible for the beneficial behavioral and neurological effects of tobacco use in PD. However, several metabolites of nicotine, such as cotinine, also increase in the brain after nicotine administration. The effect of nicotine and some of its derivatives on dopaminergic neurons viability, neuroinflammation, and motor and memory functions, have been investigated using cellular and rodent models of PD. Current evidence shows that nicotine, and some of its derivatives diminish oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in the brain and improve synaptic plasticity and neuronal survival of dopaminergic neurons. In vivo these effects resulted in improvements in mood, motor skills and memory in subjects suffering from PD pathology.

Ulcerative colitis, sepsis, obesity

The Journal of Translational Medicine has reproduced the full text of a study of nicotine’s benefits on alleviating gut inflammation, particularly in the case of ulcerative colitis. The paper also states that nicotine may benefit patients with sepsis. In brief, nicotine helps counter cytokines, about which I wrote last year.

This is a highly technical paper, therefore, only brief excerpts follow:

Nicotine has been proven effective in reducing obesity-related inflammation and insulin resistance [7] and attenuating inflammation and improving gut function in patients with active colitis [8]. In fact, ulcerative colitis patients with a history of smoking usually acquire their disease after they have stopped smoking [911]. Patients who smoke intermittently often experience an improvement in their colitis symptoms during the periods when they smoke [9,12]. Therefore the development of drugs designed to suppress the aberrant inflammatory response in obesity and ulcerative colitis may be of significant help in giving relief to patients.

nicotine exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in many systems [15,16,21,22] …

ACh and nicotine also reduce the concentration of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein production by macrophages in sepsis patients [31]. HMGB1, a nucleosome protein that acts as a pro-inflammatory cytokine, stimulates other pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-8) and promotes epithelial cell permeability [31]. Treatment with nicotine attenuated serum HMGB1 levels, decreased the clinical signs of sepsis, provided significant protection against death and improved survival in “established” sepsis [31]. Additionally, nicotine treatment was not started until 24 h after the induction of lethal peritonitis in mice indicating that the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway can modulate the inflammatory response even in established sepsis [26].

This effect of nicotine on suppressing cytokine storms might also partly explain why nicotine suppresses appetite. As with all findings, more research must be done:

Nicotine, the principal addictive constituent of tobacco, has been shown to suppress appetite and attenuates obesity in many studies, but the underlying mechanism is not clear. Nicotine receptors are highly expressed in the hypothalamus and medulla, in nuclei that play a significant role in appetite regulation … these findings indicate that nicotine has a number of actions on hypothalamic neurons that could contribute to the reduced food intake and weight loss associated with smoking.

With regard to obesity, the paper goes on to say that there are obese people who are also heavy smokers. Nicotine does not appear to help them. Furthermore, nicotine can make type 2 diabetes patients more insulin-resistant (implying unregulated insulin production) rather than insulin-sensitive:

Moreover, smoking appears to aggravate insulin resistance in persons with type 2 diabetes and to impair glycemic control [70]. Other factors such as low physical activity and poor diet could counterbalance and even overtake the slimming effect of smoking. Clearly, the pathophysiological factors involved in the association among smoking and obesity are little explored, and remain to be elucidated.

Conclusion

My own prediction is that within the next ten to 20 years, the following two things will happen.

One is that people will slowly begin to see nicotine as being beneficial to the human body. The reason this hasn’t happened yet is that, as the Ashtray Blog states:

Maryka Quik who has conducted numerous notable studies on the effect of nicotine on the brain, made a valid point:

“The whole problem with nicotine is that it happens to be found in cigarettes” she said, “people can’t disassociate the two in their mind, nicotine and smoking.”

The second is that Big Tobacco will drop smokers for the most part and begin collaborating with Big Pharma on nicotine-based medicine. (Some tobacco fields in the US have already been sold to Big Pharma for big bucks.)

That’s where the future lies.

Many will say, once again, that nicotine is good for you.

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