Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 2

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18 tobaccoasia / Issue 2, 2016 May / June) By Nattira Medvedeva Nicotine: For Your Health? Some of the most frequently brought up miscon- ceptions about nicotine are as follows: Misconception #1: Nicotine causes cancer. Fact: Nicotine does not cause cancer. There is no proof that irrefutably shows it does. Many people believe otherwise simply because nicotine is the most widely-known chemical component in to- bacco. In fact, nicotine is just one of about 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cya- nide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia. Of those 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 are known to potentially cause cancer. These cancer-causing chemicals include ac- etaldehyde, aromatic amines, arsenic, benzene, benzo[α]pyrene, beryllium (a toxic metal), 1,3– butadiene (a hazardous gas), cadmium (a toxic metal), chromium (a metallic element), cumene, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, nickel (a metallic el- ement), polonium-210 (a radioactive chemical ele- ment), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polonium-210 (a radioactive chemical element), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), tobac- co-specific nitrosamines, and vinyl chloride. Take note: that nicotine is NOT in this list! When taken out of the context of cigarette smoke, nicotine really isn't much to worry about at all. Nicotine is found in tobacco, but it can be found in lower concentrations in plants of the same family, as well as potatoes, tomatoes, cauli- flower, peppers, tea, or eggplants. The bottom line here is, nicotine does not cause cancer, which is why nicotine patches, gums, and other medicinal products are widely-used and even recommended by doctors. Misconception #2: Nicotine is addictive. Fact: Nicotine is not what makes people addicted to smoking. Rather, it is the other chemicals found in cigarettes that have more powerful addictive qualities than nicotine on its own in its natural form. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, other to- bacco alkaloids, acetaldehyde and nitric oxide all increase the addictive potential of the nicotine in cigarettes. Nicotine replacement products like The furor that critics, public health advocates, and, in turn, governments and international organiza- tions have long leashed upon the public is that nicotine, derived from the tobacco leaves in cigars, ciga- rettes, loose tobacco, and shisha, as well as in e-cigarettes, is an addictive substance that has dangerous effects on our health. But is all that really, absolutely true? Is nicotine the bad guy it's cracked up to be?

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