Nicotine has the potential to prevent brain aging
Could it be that nicotine, an addictive chemical found in tobacco, isn’t as harmful as everyone thought? Could it in fact be beneficial to one’s health? A new study suggests that it could protect the brain from aging.
Dr Ursula Winzer-Serhan, an associate professor at the Text A&M College of Medicine, did animal and human studies that have revealed that nicotine has possible cognitive benefits. The chemicals seems to activate nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain which could reduce neurodegeneration.
Thus it’s been discovered that the medicinal use of nicotine could be beneficial for human health. Concerns have been raised, however, given nicotine’s addictive properties. Dr Winzer-Serham and her team used mouse models to investigate the effects of nicotine at various doses on appetite, weight, levels of nAChRs in the brain and anxiety.
It was discovered that a high dose of nicotine did not increase anxiety. The researches added doses of nicotine to the water of mice at varying doses. The mice that received a low or medium dose of nicotine showed no identifiable change in their food intake, nAChRs or weight.
However, the mice that received a higher nicotine dose, showed a decrease in food intake, weight and an increase in nAChR levels. The researches could detect no signs of elevated anxiety levels.
While some people claim that nicotine decreases anxiety, the common reason why most people smoke, others claim it increases anxiety. This suggests that no two people would react the same to a treatment. A drug given to one patient chronically could cause a negative change in that patient’s behaviour while it might work for someone else as is the case with any new scientific study.
That being said, Dr Winzer-Serhan still strongly advises against the excessive use of nicotine-containing products. They haven’t proven that the drug is safe nor that the benefits outweigh the risks.
The researches plan to continue their studies to investigate the effects of nicotine against neurodegeneration in aged mice. The current results show that nicotine treatment isn’t likely to alter the patient’s behaviour.