2017 19 GIU
Type of content: news
Communicative register:
Focus area: Physicians

All you want to know about Nicotine

When we talk about smoke, we think always to damage caused by its countless toxics, but we shouldn’t underestimate the nicotine’s dangerousness. This article examines every aspect of it, starting from historical background to arrive to modern epidemic of addiction.

The  nicotine is the most important pharmacologically active component into tobacco smoke and the smoker searches its effect spasmodically, with consequent big diffusion of smoke habit and its extreme difficult to quit. The smoke is one of the main preventable cause of death and the best way to protect ourselves from its effects is to never used it. Nevertheless, many young people try it in all its forms, whether through active or passive use, and if the new electronic delivery systems limit the toxics by combustion, ther is always nicotine, that causes addiction. And the earlier one begins to smoke, the less likely one is to be able to quit.

The article tells us from where the tobacco plant origins, where the nicotine is and how the leaves are chosen to obtain the right percentage of nicotine into products, prepared in order to consent to nicotine to arrive into our blood stream. Do you know that nicotine reaches the brain in as little as 7 seconds after inhalation?

It’s very interesting to read about the association with menthol, used to reduce the harshness ot the smoke in many products, and about 7000 flavors into electronic nicotine delivery systems… This great variety of odors and colors is very attractive for the children, that drink very often liquid refills, with toxic effects up to, sometimes, death.

The article explains the mechanism of action of nicotine and its neurobiology: we can remember “parasympathomimetic effect”. And let’s not forget the different metabolism between people! The cytochrome P450 system can made us “slow” or “fast” metabolizers, and so “little” or “big” smokers. If we are female, there are many other problems, like body weight and hormonal contraception.

We have already read so much and it doesn’t tell anything about health consequences! The data are sufficient to conclude that nicotine causes cancer and the change in emotional states and the destruent cardiovascular effects may be enough to think to quit. There are also negative effects on fertility and in fetus, with neurocognitive impairment in childhood, if the child doesn’t die for SIDS or because of acute toxicity by ingestion.

In conclusion, keep the nicotine out of the reach of children, teenagers and, if possible, ourselves!

L.M. Siqueira et al. Nicotine and Tobacco as Substances of Abuse in Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics 2017 Jan;139(1). pii: e20163436. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-3436

Article by Maria Furno