An in-depth look at everything nicotine related. We start by giving an introduction of nicotine and break down exactly what it is. Then we look at the effects of nicotine on various body systems and just how it relates to cancer. We wrap up the article by talking about nicotines effects from vaping, nicotine addiction, and treatment if you are struggling with nicotine addiction.
We can sit here and talk about the chemical properties of nicotine, but let's stick to the basics and discuss nicotines effects on the body. Nicotine is known to be one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States, using this chemical while smoking tobacco can lead to disease, disability, or even death itself.
What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a chemical that contains nitrogen. This nitrogen-based chemical is created by several plants, which include the tobacco plant. Nicotine is associated with a group of plants that are referred to as the nightshade family. These plants include eggplant, potatoes, red peppers, and tomatoes. People believe nicotine causes cancer and does excessive damage to the lungs, but that’s not true. Nicotine is just highly addictive and exposes people to the extreme harmful outcome of smoking tobacco. Nicotine is considered a sedative and stimulant. Although nicotine’s addictive properties attract buyers, they aren’t the only factors that are being played. Many factors lead to its widespread such as the legal and social consequences of tobacco use and the marketing and advertising of tobacco companies.
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, so e-cigarettes and vaporizers are unsuitable for the people who don't smoke and for young teenagers. Vaping liquid nicotine is usually a gateway to cigarettes for people who don’t regularly smoke nicotine. There may be chemicals present in vaporizer liquid that could be harmful, and these chemicals are different in multiple brands and products.
Liquid nicotine has been marketed as a safer replacement versus smoking traditional cigarettes. To vape nicotine, the process is straightforward. The vape’s atomizer heats the liquid nicotine by applying heat, excluding the harmful effects of burning. You can also purchase the liquid nicotine in different strengths and flavors. Nicotine levels in cigarettes vary by brand. The average levels of nicotine in e-juice are 0 mg/L, 6 mg/L, 12 mg/L, and 18 mg/L. Few e-juices provide nicotine levels as high as 24 mg/L or even 36 mg/L, depending on the brand. An e-juice with a light strength of nicotine is usually between 6 to 12 mg/mL. Every American tobacco cigarette contains about 9 mg, but cigarette smoking burns away a lot of the nicotine.
Toxicity of Nicotine
The actual chemical, Nicotine, does not cause cancer. But some of the chemicals inside may contribute to it. When the body absorbs any source of nicotine, this increases the blood’s plasma levels, which causes your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. Nicotine is one of the most toxic of all poisons and has a rapid onset of action. Nicotine on the direct application in humans causes irritation and burning sensation in the mouth and throat, vomiting and diarrhea, nausea, and increased salivation.
There are potent effects shown in animal studies and in humans that show a rise in pulse rate and blood pressure. Smokers have much higher rates of heart disease, stroke, and cancer than nonsmokers do. The ingestion of nicotine causes the discharge of epinephrine, which is a hormone from the adrenal cortex that causes a release of glucose. When the stimulation occurs, it’s usually followed by depression and fatigue, which leads to the user craving more nicotine. Nicotine itself doesn’t cause cancer. The actual traditional cigarettes are what creates the damage. This happens because traditional cigarette smoke is composed of many gases, mainly carbon monoxide. They also contain tar, which leads to a high risk of lung cancer or bronchial disorders.
Psychological Effects of Nicotine
Nicotine acts as both a stimulant and a sedative. Constant exposure to nicotine results in the development of tolerance. Once this occurs, to produce the same initial effect nicotine produced, that person would need to use a higher dose of nicotine, which is giving them a higher tolerance to the chemical. Nicotine dependence is also called tobacco dependence. Nicotine dependence is an addiction to tobacco products caused by the drug nicotine. When you have nicotine dependence, it means you can not stop using the substance. Nicotine is one of the most addicting agents. The US surgeon general has concluded nicotine to be as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Nicotine produces mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily satisfying.
Withdrawal from tobacco products causes symptoms such as anxiety and irritability. One of the best methods to treat nicotine is to stop smoking, but it is not as simple as that. It is very rare to stop smoking on your first attempt. There are many treatments, such as nicotine replacement therapy and non-nicotine medications. Sometimes combining these treatments can be beneficial, such as combining a long-acting nicotine medication with a short-acting nicotine replacement product.
Nicotine replacement therapy is when nicotine is given without tobacco and harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. These can help tremendously break your habit of smoking. Examples of nicotine replacement therapy are nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenge.Nicotine Patch. A patch that delivers nicotine through your skin and into your bloodstream. Some people are prescribed to wear a patch each day. If you've been finding it challenging to stop smoking even when wearing the patch, ask your doctor about adjusting the dosage or adding another nicotine replacement product. Nicotine Gum. The gum delivers nicotine through the lining of your mouth. Smokers usually use this method when trying to curb cravings.Nicotine Lozenge. The lozenge dissolves in your mouth, and just like nicotine gum, it is delivered through the lining of the mouth.
Counseling and Support Groups
Quitting smoking doesn't only require a sudden stop to the damage you are doing to your body. Although it could create a significant change, there are factors that are played within those lines. These strategies are used sought through support groups. People can be helped through times of interventions and support. Eighty percent of the people who quit smoking begins to relapse after 1 to 3 months. Being able to quit smoking while attending a smoking cessation program can create a higher likely hood of being successful at your quitting goal. For instance, research has shown that a typical duration of a smoking cessation program, including treatment, can produce quit rates as high as 50 percent in one year.
There are counseling, support groups, and other programs that can help with the mental struggles of battling your cravings. Combining medication with behavioral counseling provides the best chance for establishing long term smoking abstinence. These methods work hand-to-hand, while medications help your body from withdrawal from tobacco, the behavioral treatments help you develop ways to avoid tobacco. The type of counsel and support that is used are Telephone counseling, individual or group counseling programs, and internet-based programs.
Tobacco Use Disorder
In DSM-5, categories of nicotine abuse and dependence are replaced with another category called tobacco use disorder. This was made to prevent confusion between dependence and addiction. Tobacco Use Disorder refers to a pattern of tobacco use that leads to clinically significant impairment or distress within 12 months. DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. DSM is used to make a formal diagnosis. People who are assessed for tobacco use disorder should also be evaluated for mental health disorders. A pattern is formed within smokers with a tobacco use disorder, and this leads to clinical impairment or distress. Some users tend to have a strong crave or urge to use tobacco. Tobacco is often taken in larger amounts or used over a more extended period than was intended.
Nicotines effects on Cancer
Smoking has been commonly known to create cancer; however, does this apply when we are referring to electronic cigarettes or vaping devices? The significant difference in traditional cigarettes and vaping devices is the amount of harmful chemicals is significantly decreased when vaping. The main factor that remains is the nicotine found within vaping devices. Nicotines effects have been shown to play a role in developing certain types of cancers. Nicotine has biological cells that initiate cancer, and healthy cells can mutate into showing properties of early-stage cancer such as increased cell proliferation, decreased cellular dependence, and reduced contact inhibition. This all means that nicotine has a chance to shorten the induction speed of cancer.
When using a vaping device, nicotine gets placed and runs through your lungs and bloodstream. Nicotines effects on the body, as previously stated, can initiate cancer formation in a person who is susceptible to lung cancer. An individual who smokes while carrying the gene CHRNA3 and CHRNA5 have been found to extract more nicotine than usual. Therefore, the initiation of cancer is far more accelerated than it would be in an individual who does not have these genes. Also, due to the varying mitochondrial signal wavelengths, there is built resistance to chemotherapeutic agents.
Nicotines Effects on Pancreatic and Breast Cancer
In a study conducted, it was found that in mice, nicotine induces cancerous pancreatic tumors. This is caused by the fact that our stress neurotransmitters are stimulated by nicotine. Another study found that nicotine promotes nonsmall cell pancreatic cancer in a receptor-dependent fashion. This same study also showed nicotine rapidly increases the cancer growth as well as giving the resistance of the cancerous cells to chemotherapy. Nicotines effects on the breasts cause a transformation of healthy breast epithelial cells and induce's cancer due to α9-nAChR-mediated cyclin D3 overexpression. So overall, nicotines effects on cancer primarily come from the fact that it inhibits and accelerates cancerous growth, as well as creating a resistance to chemotherapeutic treatments.
Nicotines Effects on the Respiratory System
There are two effects nicotine has on the lungs, the first of which is direct exposure of the lungs to nicotine from smoking or inhalation. Nicotine has a significant role in the development of emphysema in smokers by decreasing the elasticity in the lung cell tissues. Nicotine stimulates vagal reflex and parasympathetic ganglia, which causes constrictions of the airway leading to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In a study conducted, nicotine was injected microscopically into the prebotzinger complex and the brain, then the firing patterns of the mind and breathing patterns were observed. What was found was an increase in the frequency of bursts fired from the brain and a decreased amplitude and a shallow and rapid rhythm of respiration.
Nicotines Effects on the Immunological System
Nicotine has been known to suppress the immune system through central and peripheral mechanisms. Nicotine impairs antigens that are used for immunological responses. Therefore this impairment leads to a decrease in these responses. White blood cells, which are vital in fighting off infections in the body, are reduced due to arrests of cell cycles. Even the macrophages response, which is our bodies' first line of defense against tuberculosis, becomes dysfunctional. One of the final effects nicotine has on our immune system is the decrease in epithelialization and cell adhesion. This results in delayed wound healing as well as an increased risk of infection.
Nicotines Effects on the Cardiovascular System
The acute flow of blood is affected by cigarette smoking or tobacco-free smoking devices. The intensity of the blood flow through organs effects is more significant with the rapid delivery of nicotine. Nicotine causes catecholamine release both locally and systemically, which leads to an increase in an individual's blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac contractions. The blood flow in the skin and heart vessels become reduce, whereas the blood flows in skeletal muscles increases.
In a study conducted, healthy nonsmokers were given a low dosage of nicotine gum (4 mg). The results of this study revealed that blunted the increase in coronary blood flow that occurs with increased heart rate produced by cardiac pacing. This means that the constant use of nicotine can result in Coronary Vascular Disease by clogging the arteries due to a decrease in oxygen flow. Nicotine changes the structure as well as the functioning of the heart's smooth muscles and endothelial cells. It inhibits the production of transforming growth factor-β1. These effects lead to increased mitogenic activity, DNA synthesis, increases atherosclerotic plaque formation, and endothelial proliferation. The structure of red blood vessels stimulated by nicotine can progress plaque build-up.
Nicotines Effects on the Ocular System
In mice, it has been found that nicotines effects on the blood vessels create retinal neovascularization. It causes muscular degeneration in mice, which can cause vision issues. In a clinical study conducted, it revealed that the most severe form of damage to the central eyes vision was associated with retinal neovascularization that contributed to visual deterioration. Nicotine was given to rats with type 1 diabetes, and it was found that they developed clouds on the usually transparent lens of their eyes. This concluded that the combination of diabetes and nicotine might accelerate the speed at which a cloudy layer is formed on the eyes.
Does Vaping Contain Nicotine?
If you want the simple answer, yes and no. It all depends on personal preference. Vaping was interred to be a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, so it's primary purpose is to have nicotine in a more harmless, body-friendly liquid to prevent any harm to our bodies. Vaping is very easy to manipulate. In today's society, the liquids that are used in vaping contain three significant ingredients. These ingredients are Propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and nicotine. Other components are minor flavoring and color. These ingredients are what make up the "e-liquids " you see today.
Times have changed
Times have changed, and now you the option to vape without nicotine is readily available to you. Some individuals use this option to get themselves off the addiction ride easier and ultimately become addiction free. For example, an individual who has been smoking for a while may want to finally start weaning off. What they might do is purchase a liquid and device that allows them to vape roughly around 6mg of nicotine, once they feel it's time, they have the option to lower the nicotine level. They can then move to a level 3mg nicotine liquid. Slowly over time, they will gradually reach 0 and stop there addiction. The only thing we are supposed to be inhaling into our lungs is oxygen, so vaping, in general, is not entirely safe. However, vaping nicotine compared to smoking nicotine is far less a problem.
When you smoke a cigarette, you can get an average of 12mg of nicotine. When you vape, you have the ultimate decision, changing the strength. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, and according to DrugAbuse.org "like other drugs, nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine in neurons that connect the nucleus accumbent with the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and other brain regions; this dopamine signal “teaches” the brain to repeat the behavior of taking the drug. The amount of dopamine released with any given puff of a cigarette is not that great compared to other drugs. Still, the fact that the activity is repeated so often, and in conjunction with so many different activities, ties nicotine’s rewards strongly to many behaviors that we perform daily, enhancing the pleasure and the motivation that we get from them"
Vaping has a downside, as well. A lot of devices allow you to manipulate the wattage and power, which increases the vapor produced. This can burn more liquid, which, of course, means more nicotine. So be careful. If you do not vape, don't start; if you do, however, and you're trying to wean yourself off the stuff, we highly recommend you get a device that can be modified. Just pay attention to your device's settings and make sure you're reducing the level of nicotine properly.
Vaping: different effects
Overall, vaping is 95% safer than smoking. However, if you aren't a smoker at all, we don't recommend you start vaping for fun. Yes, it's a lifestyle, we get it, however inhaling anything other than oxygen is not the best. No matter how safe some places claim to be. Some common issues with vaping can include headaches, dry mouth, and nicotine consumption. Yes, vaping is safer, but sometimes individuals don't realize that just because your liquid states it has 6mg of nicotine in it doesn't mean you're going to get that. Some vape devices produce so much smoke from all the power it has; you obtain more. There is nothing good about nicotine, so ingesting in large amounts may not be the best for you.
Nicotine is known as one of the most addicting chemicals in the world. It affects roughly around 50 million individuals in the United States alone, and these individuals receive nicotine from different sources. It is also one of the hardest habits to break. Nicotines effects are vast, as we have seen above. While it may not be one of the drugs we think of when we consider the most addictive drugs, nicotine is as addictive as any. And once you are caught in its grasp, it is challenging to break free from.
Nicotine Addiction comes with several different side effects; some of the lesser effects are headaches, nausea, and heartburn. The nasty ones can be as severe as anxiety, depression, and sleep issues. Nicotines effects are unforgiving and need to be combated seriously. In the next section, we will dive into some of the better-known treatment options for nicotine addiction. Withdraw symptoms are also severe when it comes to nicotine. People going through withdrawal can be extremely irritable, have aches and body pains, extreme difficulty sleeping, intense desire to use nicotine, among many more. You must understand these effects and work with a doctor to create a plan if you are looking to remove nicotine from your life.
Treatment for Nicotine Addiction
Quitting smoking is not an easy task especially if you try to do so without help. So to truly Quit we here recommend you talk to your doctor to set up treatments to help you quit smoking. There are three major types of treatments that can be employed and have been proven to be effective, especially in tandem. The three treatments are nicotine replacement therapy, non-nicotine medication, and counseling.
Nicotine replacement therapy provides you with a source of nicotine without tobacco and its harmful chemicals. The nicotine replacements come in the form of patches, gums, lozenge, inhalers, and sprays that help curb withdrawal symptoms and cravings. For non-nicotine medication, you use medications that increase the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the body similar to what nicotine would do. This results in decreased withdrawal symptoms and a reduced feeling of pleasure from smoking. Common examples of these medications include bupropion, varenicline, and nortriptyline.
The final form of treatment is counseling and helps you develop the skills you need to avoid tobacco products in the long run. This form of treatment takes the longest to take effect and the longer you spend in counseling the better your results will be. Counseling comes in many forms including telephone counseling, individual or group counseling programs, and internet-based programs and many others.
All of these forms and more can be used to combat nicotines effects. Never be afraid to reach out if you need help battling your addiction.