Nicotine Benefits Some Aspects of Health?

Could the long-standing villain in tobacco yet prove a hero in medicine? Mounting evidence suggests that nicotine can help in certain diseases--but researchers are wary of giving cigarettes a good name. Just as with the opiate morphine a few decades ago, nicotine is tapping into some uncomfortable contradictions in public health. On one side is the near-unanimous portrait of the drug as the addictive component of cigarettes. But evidence is slowly building that nicotine also has unmistakable positive effects in illnesses as diverse as:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Tourette syndrome

The debate on nicotine is further complicated because, unlike morphine, nicotine is available over the counter. Many scientists who study the drug's beneficial effects are wary that their pro-nicotine comments may be distorted as pro-smoking by the media or by those with specific agendas. One researcher flat-out refused to grant an interview, and others were careful to word their comments in terms of nicotine-like compounds, rather than nicotine itself.

Nature Medicine June 22, 2004

Click Here and be the first to comment on this article
Post your comment