Nicotine is a chemical substance that occurs naturally in the tobacco plant. Although not excessively harmful on its own, it would be fair to say that nicotine has a pretty bad reputation as most people wrongly associate it with cancer. Nicotine is absorbed into our bodies when the tobacco fumes get through the lining of the air sacs in the lungs. It can also be absorbed through the skin and the mucous membrane of the nose, or the mouth when chewed or sniffed. After the body absorbs nicotine, it is circulated in the body through the bloodstream to the brain creating a blood-brain barrier.
Nicotine is named after the tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum. According to research, the tobacco plant was named after a French ambassador by the name of Jean Nicot de Villemian who is said to have sent tobacco seeds as a gift to the Portuguese King in 1560. The King then promoted the use of nicotine since it was believed to have some medicinal values especially against the plague which was a prevalent disease during the time.
By 1559, tobacco had been introduced into the European markets where it was not only being used for smoking, but also as an insecticide. As you can see, even from these early times, people knew and appreciated the power of nicotine. However, this narrative took a turn in the 1960’s, when early tobacco studies linked tobacco and cigarette use to cancer.
Contrary to what many people believe, it is important to note that nicotine is not a carcinogen and therefore does not cause cancer. Although it is correct to say that most tobacco products can be associated with the spread of cancer, it is good to know that there is no evidence showing that nicotine can cause cancer or heart disease. There is a common saying, ‘’people smoke for nicotine, but they die from the tar.’’
While it is true that cigars and cigarettes may lead to cancer, it is important to note that nicotine is not responsible for this. According to a study carried out by Neil Borowitz on Nicotine Safety and Toxicity, it was discovered that nicotine on its own is not a cancer-causing agent and that it poses little or no significant cardiovascular risk. During this study, the effects of nicotine on its own (when not being smoked in a combustible cigarette) were examined, and it was discovered that it poses no adverse health effects.
Very few people believe that nicotine can be harmless. According to a study carried out by the Royal Society of Public Health in the UK, it was discovered that more than 90% of average UK citizens saw nicotine as the primary cancer-causing agent in cigarettes. It is important to know that this idea is very far from the truth and that the risks associated with nicotine are almost similar to the effects caused by caffeine. Millions of people ingest caffeine, right?
As the anti-smoking campaigns began, nicotine was grouped together with harmful tobacco smoke. This gave the impression that nicotine was equally harmful and is the reason why most people see nicotine as a harmful agent. This narrative gave the public the wrong image of nicotine, and that is why most people still believe that nicotine is a cancer-causing agent.
As we have already noted, nicotine on itself is not harmful to our health. On the other hand, it is critical to note that tobacco smoking is the number one preventable cause of death across the globe.
However, all is not lost since you can safely consume nicotine without really having to smoke. Most people have now turned to nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches and gum. Also, vaping has become very popular with people who want to quit smoking.
It is therefore very critical that people understand that nicotine is not as harmful as it is made to appear. This will allow smokers to look for alternative ways of consuming nicotine, which then lowers their risk of getting cancer and other diseases.
Although nicotine is highly addictive, it also has some benefits:
- Improves Memory and Concentration
Research has shown that nicotine enhances memory and concentration. It increases norepinephrine which boosts sensation and arousal.
- Reduces Anxiety
Nicotine increases the levels of beta-endorphin which in turn lowers stress and anxiety.
According to research, nicotine enters the bloodstream immediately after you inhale tobacco smoke. It enters the blood-stream and reaches the brain within 20 seconds. Usually, nicotine leaves the bloodstream within 2 hours after consumption.
THE AMOUNT OF NICOTINE ENTERING THE BODY DEPENDS ON THE FOLLOWING FACTORS:
- The type of tobacco inhaled.
- Whether the smoker uses a filter or not when smoking.
- The type of filter used.
As we have already mentioned, it is safer to use a vaporizer to consume nicotine since tobacco smoking may be hazardous to your health.
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