Long Term Effects of Nicotine

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While many studies exist on the long term effects of smoking and tobacco use, there are few and conflicting studies to determine the long term effects of nicotine. With the invention of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) researchers are now just beginning to learn the long term effects within the scientific community. There is however, plenty of anecdotal evidence that pure nicotine exposure is equally toxic, and may be more so. Science is beginning to prove what chronic users of NRT already know.

Back in 1996, the National Institutes of Health published an animal trial exposing rats to inhaled nicotine for a short 2 year period. Their conclusion was broad. “In conclusion, our study does not indicate any harmful effect of nicotine when given in its pure form by inhalation.” Since then, thousands of doctors have recommended the “safer” form of nicotine in NRT to their patients. The patients started using NRT and some successfully quit smoking, but many became hooked to the NRT. Many of these patients have experienced an increase in blood pressure, hair loss, damaged teeth, rashes and skin problems. Some users also ingest much more nicotine than they did while they were smoking.

There is mounting evidence that nicotine, even in its pure form, plays an important part in the development of cancer. In a report by the Toxicological Sciences researchers have shown that nicotine promotes the growth of colon tumors. In another study, nicotine was shown to inhibit one method that the body uses to clean up damaged cells and at the same time increase the formation of free radicals that causes the damage. A report from the Mayo Clinic says research is now showing a link between diabetes and mouth cancer with the use of certain forms of NRT. The nicotine in NRT has also been linked to several birth defects and an increased risk of miscarriage. An Oxford Journal report , “suggest(s) that nicotine alone may be a key chemical responsible for many of the long-term effects associated with maternal cigarette smoking on the offspring, such as impaired fertility, type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, neurobehavioral defects, and respiratory dysfunction.”

In short we are just beginning to learn the effects of long term exposure to pure nicotine. We may not know the full effects for years, but science is beginning to confirm what has been highly suspected for some time.

References:
http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/97/2/279.full
http://whyquit.com/pr/120108.html
http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/116/2/467.abstract
http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/116/2/364.abstract

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