Published on June 21st, 2012 | by James0
Is Nicotine A Carcinogen
Many smokers of tobacco cigarettes probably don’t concern themselves too much with the question as to whether nicotine is a carcinogen; after all the tobacco they are smoking to get that nicotine fix is unquestionably proven to be a carcinogenic cocktail, so it hardly matters whether the one particular chemical out of the soup of others itself causes cancer.
However for those of use who have made the switch to electronic cigarettes – and choose to continue using them with nicotine (after all you CAN elect for zero nicotine e cigarettes) - the question of nicotine and just how dangerous it is or isn’t becomes a much more vital and obvious one to ask…. in particular:
Is Nicotine A Carcigoneric Compound?
Out of the many horrible and often-times fatal diseases that tobacco smoking causes, most would likely agree that cancer, and lung-cancer in particular (though not exclusively) is the scariest and worst of the lot. Though smoking has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, causes an increase in blood pressure and related symptoms – so does drinking coffee.
I would hazard a guess that most people think of nicotine as the killer toxin in tobacco smoke, or at least one of the more deadly in the commonly known mix of tar, carbon monoxide and the many others. There is no question indeed that nicotine is a known poison in large enough doses; it was a commonly used pesticide after all early in the 20th century. But is nicotine – in the quantity that it is consumed via e-cigarettes, nicotine-patches, gums or cigarettes for that matter – by itself the tremendously dangerous substance that most people assume it is?
I am not a doctor nor claim to offer medical advice, but as someone who made the decision (and was successful at) switching to e-cigarettes after a little more than a decade of fairly heavy tobacco use, these are topics I personally have considered and researched. I am someone who believes in the value of the “harm reduction” philosophy, which is how I view my own choice to use e-cigs as a substitute for my cigarette smoking.
There’s been much debate on this question as to whether nicotine contributes significantly to the tobacco related diseases smokers face. As it turns out nicotine on it’s own has never been shown to cause cancer – and whether or not e-cigarettes are a less harmful choice (to me it simply seems obvious that when compared with tobacco smoke almost anything would be less harmful! though not a view yet ‘endorsed’ by fda or medical community). Many doctors however would likely agree that in terms of the cocktail of thousands of chemical toxins present in tobacco smoke that nicotine is far less dangerous than many other parts of that ‘soup’ like Tar and carbon monoxide
Smokers should definitely consider kicking their tobacco cigarette habit as it does lead to severe health complications in the long term, but to quit smoking entirely based on the fact that nicotine is classified as a carcinogen may be a little shortsighted. While some people claim that nicotine is a potentially deadly additive in cigarettes, we’ll take a look at nicotine and determine if it really is as deadly as people claim it to be. The toxicity of nicotine and its dangerous application in tobacco cigarettes may not be as clear cut and dry as many claim it to be.
What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is the main ingredient in tobacco cigarettes that smokers come to crave which leads to the potential addictiveness of these products. Nicotine, on its own however, is a simple chemical that occurs naturally in the leaves of a tobacco plant. The tobacco plant creates this substance as a means to protect itself from natural predators that attempt to feast upon the plant and this chemical helps to keep would-be attackers at bay. This defense mechanism of the tobacco plant keeps it safe from various insects and animals. In the production of cigarettes, this nicotine chemical is extracted by using the nicotine leaves of the plant in a regular tobacco cigarette. Once lit, the cigarette produces nicotine infused smoke that the smoker then inhales.
Is It A Carcinogen?
This is the million dollar question. Let’s take a look at the definition of a carcinogen. A carcinogen is essentially a toxic substance that is capable of causing cancer and other health disorders in the human body. Despite prevailing attitudes, it has been scientifically proven that nicotine is NOT the cause of many of the complications smokers face when smoking regular tobacco cigarettes. While being the main ingredient of a cigarette, the chemical additives in a cigarette are to blame like: ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and carbon monoxide. In fact, the average tobacco cigarette contains well over 4,000 chemicals used in things ranging from household cleaners to industrial pesticides.Being a non-carcinogenic chemical in traditional tobacco cigarettes, nicotine is a simple substance that is absorbed in the body to satiate the user’s craving for it. Nicotine is not a chemical that actively promotes the dangerous diseases you’d find with prolonged exposure to tobacco cigarettes.
What are Nicotine’s Effects On The Mind And Body?
Seven seconds is all it takes for a the brain to respond to nicotine once it’s inhaled by the smokers. This fast acting chemical has been scientifically studied and has been shown to increase the levels of dopamine in the brain which is similar in effect to drugs like heroin or cocaine. Nicotine, however, impacts the brain much less. Dopamine in the brain results in feelings of tranquility and a relaxed state of mind. Higher levels of dopamine are also known to increase memory and concentration which can be enhanced by concentrations of nicotine. Effects of nicotine on dopamine receptors can typically last anywhere between five minutes to just under an hour. Once the nicotine begins to wear off, some smokers can develop a chemical dependency to achieve longer sessions of relaxation and calm which can then ultimately lead to addiction.
Many people have claimed that nicotine is a toxic chemical that’s lethal in even the smallest doses. Since we’ve discussed the idea that nicotine is not a carcinogen, it’s also NOT a toxic or lethal substance if introduced to the body in moderate amounts. The average tobacco cigarette contains roughly 1mg-1.5mg of nicotine content. To put it in contextual terms, it would take more than 50mg of nicotine for it to be potentially lethal in humans. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s not nicotine that’s the danger in tobacco cigarettes but thousands of chemical additives in cigarettes and cigarette smoke that lead to health problems like cancer and even premature death.
Should You Quit Nicotine Entirely?
So now that we’ve answered the lingering question on many smokers’ minds: “is nicotine a carcinogen?” you may be asking yourself if it’s wise to nix nicotine from your routine for good. We’ve already established the fact that regular tobacco cigarettes are dangerous not because of their nicotine content but because of the added ingredients that can lead to health problems down the line. But should you really quit smoking?
Yes and no. We highly recommend that smokers looking to kick their habit attempt to limit their exposure to regular tobacco cigarettes but for those that want to continue smoking without potential risks should consider electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes contain a concentrated amount of reduced nicotine content that feels just as satisfying as smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette. The key difference between the two is that unlike regular tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes only contain a food-grade propylene glycol solution and nicotine, that’s it. You’re not getting the thousands of chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes that have the potential to be life threatening.
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