Tag Archives: Nicotine

Sweet Drag

T.V. Jayan on a new study that confirms that nicotine worsens diabetes-related complications

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If you are diabetic and also enjoy your smoke, it’s a double whammy for you. Diabetic smokers will find it difficult to stave off complications associated with rising blood sugar levels, new research has shown.

The study — by Xian-Chuan Liu, a researcher at the California State Polytechnic University in the US — is the first to establish a strong link between smoking and diabetes-related complications. The work was presented at the 241st annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim yesterday. “If you’re a smoker and have diabetes, you should be concerned and make every effort to quit smoking,” says Liu.

Though cigarette smoking is a major health risk factor that significantly increases your chances of heart disease, cancer, and acute and chronic respiratory tract infection, it was hardly implicated in the development of diabetes till very recently. One study in the recent past, however, showed that smokers may be nearly 50 per cent more vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. Similarly, children born to smoking mothers will have impaired production of insulin, the hormone required to regulate glucose uptake by cells, and thus may develop type 1 diabetes.

The new study has gone a step further to show that smoking worsens the complications associated with diabetes and how this really happens. Some of the complications linked to diabetes are heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and nerve damage.

According to the Brussels-based International Diabetes Federation, more than 300 million people around the world suffer from diabetes. The figure is expected to reach close to 500 million by 2030.

The study is particularly significant for India, where a large number of diabetics are also smokers. It is estimated that there are more than 50 million diabetics in the country. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 showed that India is home to more than 120 million smokers.

Though doctors have known for years that smoking increases the risk of developing diabetes-related complications, they haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact substance in cigarette smoke responsible for this. Liu and his colleagues suspected it may be nicotine, the chemical that makes smoking addictive.

As diabetes has no cure yet, the only way to ward off complications is to maintain the required blood sugar levels through medicine and lifestyle modification. The gold standard for monitoring long-term blood sugar levels in diabetics is a blood test called the haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c).

The premise for the HbA1c test is as follows. The haemoglobin in red blood cells reacts with glucose molecules to form what is called glycated haemoglobin. In individuals with poorly controlled diabetes, the quantities of these glycated haemoglobins are much higher than in healthy people. Hence, the number of glycated haemoglobins in one’s blood gives a fairly accurate measure of glucose levels in blood.

Used often in conjunction with regular blood sugar monitoring, the HbA1c test reveals the average amount of sugar in blood during a period of up to three months. High HbA1c test results mean that the condition is not well controlled and there is an increased risk of chronic complications.

To explore their theory that nicotine has a role, the scientists set out to check how the chemical influences HbA1c. Using human blood samples, they showed that concentrations of nicotine similar to those found in the blood of smokers did, indeed, raise levels of HbA1c.

Nicotine caused HbA1c levels to rise by as much as 34 per cent,” Liu told Knowhow. In moderate smokers, the increase was about 10 per cent.

“This looks like an important finding. We had so far thought that nicotine had no influence on diabetes-related complications,” says Balbir Singh, cardiologist at Medanta, a private hospital in Gurgaon.

High blood sugar or not, it doesn’t matter. Stub out that cigarette in any case.

Source: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Liquid Smoking

A sip of smoke to help drop the fag . A puff of cigarette may not be in vogue anymore with a sip promising the same smoking experience sans nicotine.
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Called ‘Liquid Smoking‘ the drink has South African herbal extracts, say its Dutch manufacturers United Drinks and Beauty Corporation.

The drink has already been on sale for one year now in Netherlands and United Drinks hopes the product would be available in the UK before Christmas, The Telegraph reported recently.

“The manufacturers say it does not contain the drug nicotine but rather a mix of roots from South African plants which is said to give ‘a slight energising effect, followed by a euphoric sense of calming and relaxation,” the newspaper said.

‘Liquid Smoking’ would cost about 1.50 pounds in the shops and would have less than 21 calories in every 275 ml can.

Meanwhile, The Guardian in a recent report about the drink said, “Coming in a can reminiscent of a cigarette packet, it has a box proclaiming ‘no warning needed’ where a health warning would be on a packet of cigarettes“.

Quoting United Drinks Chief Executive Martin Hartman, The Telegraph said, “The product we (United Drinks) have developed has got similar properties to nicotine, so we are trying to help people out who are affected by the ban on nicotine.

People might use this instead of a cigarette or tobacco to help the cravings.”

Martin Hartman was further quoted as saying “it will take the edge off of a need for nicotine for between one to four hours… I think it will help people who feel the need for nicotine in bars, restaurants, long-haul flights and on the train,” Martin Hartman added.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Why Just One Cigarette Can Get You Hooked

A Canadian study has suggested that it may take only one cigarette for some people to get addicted to nicotine, because of how their brains are wired.

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By manipulating receptors in the brains of rats, researchers were able to control whether the first exposure to nicotine was enjoyable or repulsive. They experimented on two types of receptors for dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain’s reward circuitry.

By blocking the receptors, the researchers were able to switch how nicotine was processed — from repulsive to rewarding or positive. The natural variations that occur between people may therefore explain why some are more likely to become addicted to nicotine.
Sources:
CBC News August 5, 2008
The Journal of Neuroscience, August 6, 2008, 28(32):8025-8033

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Smokers at Greater Risk of Mishaps

We have all heard the perils of drunken driving and talking on the cell phone while driving. But here’s a new one. Studies suggest that smoking while driving is a leading contributor to injuries, and motor vehicle crashes….click & see

You may click to see:->Plea to ban drivers from smoking

Studies done in US have pointed out that smoking causes risk factors for injury including fires, depressed reflexes, non-coordination, impaired fitness and, possibly, depressed moods.

The study done by B N Leistikow, D C Martic and S J Samuels interviewed adults (ages 18 plus) and followed up for vital status after a gap of five years using the National Death Index (NDI). Participants were classified as never smokers (fewer than 100 lifetime cigarettes), ex-smokers, and current smokers (smokers by baseline self report).

For smokers, cigarettes per day were recorded into 1-14, 15-24 and 25-plus cigarettes-per-day categories.
The study found that smokers have significant dose-response excesses of injury and death, independent of age, education and marital status. This supports earlier studies suggesting that smoking may be a leading contributor to injuries.

In fact, researchers have suggested that the correlation of smoking and driving should be studied in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Also, smoking-involved crashes may be studied in the same manner as alcohol-involved crashes.

Dr Ashok Seth, chairman and chief cardiologist of Max Heart Institute, says: “This is an interesting study. Smoking and driving may lead to accidents, and smoking is a distraction – far more distractive than any activity in the car. The accidents may occur as cigarette is an inflammable object, and lead to fires.

It may make the smoker distracted and spoils his concentration with one hand constantly engaged and moving to drop the ash. Smoking is also believed to release certain hormones which pump up confidence levels, leading to errors.”

The study is of critical importance to India, where smoking is responsible for about one in 20 deaths of women and one in five deaths of men in the age group of 30-69 years. By 2010, it is estimated that smoking will lead to one million deaths in the country.

Says Dr Anoop Misra director and head, department of diabetes, Fortis Hospitals: “Tobacco smoke contains high quantity of carboxy haemoglobin, which replaces normal haemoglobin and transiently decreases oxygenation of brain.

Smoking impairs certain motor reflexes and has adverse effects on message transfer in brain due to shifts in neurochemicals.

All these would impair any complex motor task as driving. Those who are heavy smokers or relatively new smokers are worst affected. Over long periods, smoking causes permanent damage to neurons and this results in decline of intellectual functions.”

You may click to see:->PREVENT TOBACCO-CAUSED BRAIN DAMAGE

Sources: The Times Of India

Smoke Signals

Facebook has many uses, but scientific research is not usually considered to be one of them. However, this social networking site, immensely popular among young people, helped Canadian researchers track children who were part of a study five years ago. The study was on nicotine dependence among school children. As they followed the habit once again among the teenagers, the scientists gained two valuable insights on smoking and adolescents — first, that smoking does not make girls thin and, second, that it makes boys shorter. Both findings contradicted common perceptions about smoking in North America, and probably in the rest of the world as well.

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Researchers have been looking at smoking in children and adolescents for some time now, because tobacco addiction generally starts somewhere in high school or early university life. By global standards, the problem is not very serious in North America, which has seen a decline in smoking over the years. In fact, the World Health Organization lists India as one of the nations with a high prevalence of smoking among the young, along with Central and Eastern Europe and some Pacific Islands. However, smoking does start early sometimes in North America, as in India and other parts of the world. And misconceptions about smoking are often a strong motivation to start tobacco use.

As a young girl, Jennifer ’ Loughlin had heard about smoking and weight control early in life. “Smoking will make you thin,” she was told by many while she was growing up. Now as an epidemiologist and biostatistician at the University of Montreal, she has been studying the natural history of nicotine dependence. A few years ago, she had found compelling evidence for a genetic role in the development of nicotine dependence among teenagers. Now her study, done with colleagues in other Canadian institutions, debunks a popular myth: that smoking is good for weight control among girls.

As she had known always, girls in North America often cite this as a reason to start smoking. This finding should thus be a strong deterrent, but what the scientists found among boys was even more interesting. Boys who smoked regularly grew up to be an inch shorter. Since growing tall is one of the ambitions of adolescent boys, this finding should be an even stronger deterrent to smoking among boys. Says ’ Loughlin: “Boys now may see smoking as a bad choice if they want to grow tall.”

Smoking among children and adolescents has received considerable attention among scientists of various disciplines. Most of these studies did not provide any conclusive evidence of why adolescents smoked or how smoking affects them. For example, a part of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey in Punjab in 2003 got conflicting results regarding motivations. The participants said that boys or girls who smoke have more friends. But they also said that those who smoke are less attractive.

Three years ago, scientists at the Yale University studied all the research literature on smoking and weight concerns among teenagers. They found that a significant number of teenage girls believed smoking was a way of weight control, but they did not find any relationship in practice. On the other hand, heavier boys reduced their body mass index when they smoked. Girls who smoked more cigarettes were more concerned about gaining weight after they quit, which provided a strong motivation to continue smoking.

’ Loughlin had started studying smoking in children in 1999. She had funding from the Canadian Cancer Society. She followed a cohort of students in high school for five years. “Children in North America generally start smoking at the age of 12,” she says. “Some start even at eight.” She had then found a possible genetic link, a predisposition that makes some pick up the habit when exposed to it.

A few years later, she wanted to follow these students again. There were 1,300 of them, and many of them had gone away from where they originally lived. But the scientists managed to trace every one of them. “We used Facebook heavily to trace the students,” says ’ Loughlin. She had a grant of $650 million, again from the Canadian Cancer Society. The results of the study provided compelling evidence of smoking and height and weight among children aged between 12 and 17. Girls do not shed weight when they smoked. Boys shed height when they did.

While common sense says that smoking should not cause any difference in weight, the decrease in height is more intriguing. The study found that boys who smoked 10 cigarettes a day from the age 12 to 17 would be an inch shorter than a boy who did not smoke. This was not true of girls, probably because boys attain full height a few years later than girls do. Why does this happen? There is no clear answer, but we can hazard a guess. Maybe nicotine deprives the body of oxygen. Maybe it somehow affects the growth hormones. Whatever the reason is, the message is loud and clear.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)