Nicotine could protect brain from aging, disease

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BRYAN, TX (KTRK) -- While smoking tobacco is known to be bad for your health, new research suggests nicotine may protect your brain from aging.

Texas A&M researchers say a new study even suggests when nicotine is given independently from tobacco, it could protect people from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Ursula Winzer-Serhan, associate professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine, says she and other collaborators found nicotine's ability to suppress the appetite may have something to do with its possible protective effects.

Animal studies showed when nicotine was added to drinking water, those test animals receiving the highest doses ate less, gained less weight and had more receptors in the brain, suggesting it can impact behavior.

Winzer-Serhan says more studies are necessary to determine whether a lower body mass index translates to less degeneration of the brain.

The researchers caution, however, that this is not encouragement for anyone to take up smoking.

"Smoking results in so many health problems that any possible benefit of the nicotine would be more than cancelled out," Winzer-Serhan says.

The study has just been published in Open Access Journal of Toxicology.