Nicotine Nicotine

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					America’s Leading Preventable Killer
Withdrawal may be bad, but long-term                        or not, half of the smokers who have heart
smoking can be much worse. It raises                        attacks keep smoking, even though their
your blood pressure, dulls your senses of                   doctor warns them to stop. That’s a strong
smell and taste, reduces your stamina,                      addiction!
and wrinkles your skin. More dangerously,
long-term smoking can lead to fatal heart                   Smokeless tobacco also has harmful ef-                       The Brain’s Response to

attacks, strokes, emphysema, and cancer.                    fects. Chewing tobacco can cause dam-
                                                            age to gum tissue and even loss of teeth.
You may be surprised to learn that tobac-                   It also reduces a person’s ability to taste
co use causes far more illnesses and death                  and smell. Most importantly, smokeless
than all other addicting drugs combined.                    tobacco contains cancer-causing chemi-
One out of every six deaths in the United                   cals that can cause cancers of the mouth,     Hi, my name’s Sara Bellum. Welcome to            When tobacco is smoked, nicotine is ab-
States is a result of smoking.                              pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. This can      my magazine series exploring the brain’s         sorbed by the lungs and quickly moved
                                                                                                          response to drugs. In this issue, we’ll inves-   into the bloodstream, where it is circu-
                                                            even happen in very young users of chew-
                                                                                                          tigate the fascinating facts about nicotine.     lated throughout the brain. All of this hap-
But even when faced with risk of death,                     ing tobacco. In fact, most people who de-
                                                                                                          Some of this information was only recently       pens very rapidly. In fact, nicotine reaches
many people keep using tobacco because                      velop these cancers were users of chewing     discovered by leading scientists.                the brain within 8 seconds after someone
they are so addicted to nicotine. Believe it                tobacco.                                                                                       inhales tobacco smoke. Nicotine can also
                                                                                                          For centuries, people have chewed and            enter the bloodstream through the mucous
                                                                                                          smoked tobacco, which comes from the             membranes that line the mouth (if tobacco is
                                                                                                          plant nicotiana tabacum. The reason tobacco      chewed) or nose (if snuff is used), and even

The Search                                                                                                is used by so many people is because it con-
                                                                                                          tains a powerful drug known as nicotine.
                                                                                                                                                           through the skin.

Continues                                                                                                                                                  Nicotine affects the entire body. Nicotine
                                                                                                                                                           acts directly on the heart to change heart
                                                                                                                                                           rate and blood pressure. It also acts on the
The truth is, there’s still a whole              MOUTH CANCER       HEART ATTACK
                                                                                                                                                           nerves that control respiration to change
lot that scientists don’t know                   PHARYNX CANCER     STROKE
                                                                                                                                                           breathing patterns. In high concentrations,
about nicotine’s effects on the                  LARYNX CANCER      EMPHYSEMA
                                                                                                                                                           nicotine is deadly, in fact one drop of puri-
brain. Maybe someday you’ll                      ESOPHAGUS CANCER   CANCER
                                                                                                                                                           fied nicotine on the tongue will kill a person.
make the next big discovery.                     LOSS OF TEETH
                                                                                                                                                            It’s so lethal that it has been used as a pesti-
                                                                                                                                                                 cide for centuries.
Until then, join me - Sara
Bellum - in the other magazines                                                                                                                                       So why do people smoke? Because
in my series as we explore                                                                                                                                                nicotine acts in the brain
how drugs affect the brain and                                                                                                                                             where it can stimulate feel-
nervous system.                                                                                                                                                             ings of pleasure.

For more information, visit:
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information,
P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20847
Mind Over Matter is produced by the National Institute
on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

                                                                                                                      National Institute on Drug Abuse
These materials are in the public domain and may be
reproduced without permission. Citation of the source is
appreciated. NIH Publication No. 06-4248. Printed 1998.
Reprinted 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006.
      How Does Nicotine Act in the Brain?
      Your brain is made up of billions of              reward. Dopamine, which is sometimes
      nerve cells. They communicate by                  called the pleasure molecule, is the
      releasing chemical messengers called              same neurotransmitter that is involved in
      neurotransmitters. Each neurotransmitter          addictions to other drugs such as cocaine
      is like a key that fits into a special “lock,”    and heroin. Researchers now believe
      called a receptor, located on the surface         that this change in dopamine may play a
      of nerve cells. When a neurotransmitter           key role in all addictions. This may help
      finds its receptor, it activates the receptor’s   explain why it is so hard for people to stop
      nerve cell.                                       smoking.

      The nicotine molecule is shaped like a            Easy to Start, Hard to Quit
      neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.
      Acetylcholine and its receptors are               Did you know that nicotine is as addictive
      involved in many functions, including             as heroin or cocaine? If someone uses
      muscle movement, breathing, heart rate,           nicotine again and again, such as by
      learning, and memory. They also cause             smoking cigarettes or cigars or chewing
      the release of other neurotransmitters and        tobacco, his or her body develops a
      hormones that affect your mood, appetite,         tolerance for it. When someone develops
      memory, and more. When nicotine gets              tolerance, he or she needs more drug to get
      into the brain, it attaches to acetylcholine      the same effect. Eventually, a person can
      receptors and mimics the actions of               become addicted. Once a person becomes
      acetylcholine.                                    addicted, it is extremely difficult to quit.
                                                        People who start smoking before the age
      Nicotine also activates areas of the              of 21 have the hardest time quitting, and
      brain that are involved in producing              fewer than 1 in 10 people who try to quit
      feelings of pleasure and reward. Recently,        smoking succeed.
      scientists discovered that nicotine raises
                                the levels of a         When nicotine addicts stop smoking they
                                neurotransmitter        may suffer from restlessness, hunger,
                                called dopamine         depression,  headaches,     and    other
                                in the parts of         uncomfortable feelings. These are called
                                the brain that          “withdrawal symptoms” because they
                                produce feelings        happen when nicotine is withdrawn from
                                of pleasure and         the body.

                                  Got A Match?
                                  The brain’s best defense against nicotine is to think hard before
    A distant                     using it. Start by trying to match the correct percentages to the
      view                        statements located below.
                                  1. Percentage of smokers who start               A. About 30%
                                     smoking in their teens.                       B. 80%-90%
                                  2. Percentage of smokers age 17 or               C. 70%
                                     under who say they regret starting.
                                  3. Percentage of youth smokers who
                                     will continue smoking and die early
                                                                                     3. A- About 30%
                                                                                     2. C- 70%
                                     from a smoking-related disease.                 1. B- 80%-90%