Yesterday I was reading the Asthray blog's post: Could Vaping Reduce Your Blood Pressure? It appears there is some controversy regarding this well known fact after all. One problem is that most studies on the subject have been focusing on the effects smoking has on blood pressure, not what nicotine by itself does. And then there is this: a lot of studies actually conclude that smokers have lower blood pressure, but also that smoking cessation leads to increased blood pressure. What's up with that? Part of the explanation probably lies in the fact that there is a difference in long term and short term effects. Dr. Farsalinos told the Ashtray blog this:
"There is some controversy in this area. First of all, all studies refer to smoking and not nicotine. Nicotine has immediate effects on blood pressure (acute elevation, lasting for about 15 minutes). But smoking has been associated (in some studies) with lower blood pressure.
Moreover, some studies have shown that smoking cessation leads to elevated blood pressure. This is probably attributed to weight gain commonly observed after smoking cessation. On the other side, there are some other studies showing opposite findings.”Clearly, more research is needed in this area, and Dr. Farsalinos is of course planning to do this.
Clicking on some of the links in the Ashtray blog post will also make you question the other well known fact that I mentioned in the beginning of this post: the common knowledge that nicotine is very addictive. This article from Tampa Bay Times discusses a study that not only finds nicotine safe, but it also seems to have some positive cognitive effects. The phenomenon that smokers are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease have long puzzled scientists as smoking causes cardiovascular diseases that should actually increase the likeliness of developing Alzheimer's. What the scientists at Vanderbilt University's Center for Cognitive Medicine found was that it is nicotine that actually protects people from this awful disease. And it doesn't stop there. It seems protect against Parkinson's disease as well, and it boosts the cognitive function in older people showing signs of age-related mental decline. What an awful drug to be addicted to, right? If you're addicted that is. According to Dr. Paul Newhouse, the director of Vanderbilt University's Center for Cognitive Medicine, nicotine by itself isn't very addictive, it requires assistance from other substances found in tobacco to get people hooked:
"People won't smoke without nicotine in cigarettes, but they won't take nicotine by itself. Nicotine is not reinforcing enough. That's why FDA agreed nicotine could be sold over the counter. No one wants to take it because it's not pleasant enough by itself. And it's hard to get animals to self-administer nicotine the way they will with cocaine."In their extensive research into beneficial effects of nicotine on the brain they have used nicotine patches as a way to administer the nicotine to the subjects of their studies, and according to Dr. Newhouse it has virtually no side-effect:
"It seems very safe even in nonsmokers. In our studies we find it actually reduces blood pressure chronically. And there were no addiction or withdrawal problems, and nobody started smoking cigarettes. The risk of addiction to nicotine alone is virtually nil."Oh... there the blood pressure comes up again. It certainly will be very interesting to see what Dr. Farsalinos finds in his upcoming study on the subject. And notice this: nobody started smoking cigarettes. Nicotine itself is in other words not a gateway to smoking either... surprised?
Isn't the well known fact that nicotine is very addictive true then? I've heard this before, but have to admit I kind of dismissed it. Cause I tried e-cigs without nicotine and I do feel that only the nicotine containing ones stops my cravings for cigarettes. So it makes very much sense that nicotine is addictive. But Dr. Newhouse is not the only one that says nicotine isn't addictive. Peter Killeen, emeritus professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has studied the subject and he says the same thing: There is no such thing as nicotine addiction (read the article for an in depth explanation of his studies). Again, it's nicotine in combination with other chemicals that creates the addiction.
Try to google "nicotine benefits". Start clicking and you'll discover there are more scientists saying the same things:
- Nicotine by its self is not very addictive. They refer to studies showing that NRT's are not very addictive, and the fact that they can't seem to get animals hooked on nicotine alone. Where is the proof that nicotine by itself is addictive?
- Nicotine seems to have a lot of positive effects on the brain.
Adding together the positive effects of nicotine and all this pretty convincing evidence that nicotine in fact isn't addictive on it's own, one might start to wonder: How and when did the whole world get convinced that it is? What or who made nicotine the scapegoat? And why? And finally, looking at the upsides of it's use, if you can administer it in a safe way (like vaping), is there any reason left to stop using it?