Wednesday, March 23. 2011
The children of women who smoked cigarettes during pregnancy may be more likely to become smokers themselves later in life, according to new research from Finnish and Russian scientists.
Researchers from the Academy of Finland's Research Programme on Substance Abuse and Addictions used laboratory mice to test their theory. After adding nicotine to the drinking water of pregnant mice, scientists discovered that their offspring were more likely to self-administer the drug compared to mice who were not exposed to nicotine during development.
In addition, researchers found that nicotine attaches itself to receptors, which trigger multiple intracellular signals when activated. Morphine and its related compounds, which normally binds to its own receptors, also attaches to nicotine receptors, which may cause altered nicotine responses. Researchers say this may explain why people who use nicotine often use other substances as well, knowledge which could help scientists develop new medications to treat both cigarette smoking and drug addiction.
Smoking cigarettes is a notoriously harmful habit that will most likely lead to higher health insurance rates. According to the American Heart Association, nicotine is an extremely addictive substance that changes the user's brain chemistry, making them want it more and resulting in withdrawal symptoms when the craving is not satisfied.
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