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Nicotine and the aging brain

Researchers at Texas A&M found that, when

Researchers at Texas A&M found that, when given independently from tobacco, nicotine helps protect the aging brain. Credit: Dreamstime

Can nicotine, that addictive chemical found in tobacco and e-cigarettes, help your aging brain?

Researchers at Texas A&M found that, when given independently from tobacco, the maligned chemical helps protect the aging brain and may even hold off Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Apparently nicotine’s protective abilities may have something to do with its power to suppress appetite, according to Ursula Winzer-Serhan, an associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. The study was published in the Open Access Journal of Toxicology.

This information coincides with previous research that has shown nicotine’s possible cognitive benefits by binding and activating certain receptors in the brain. These receptors, in turn, have been found to reduce neurodegeneration.

A lot more research needs to be done, primarily testing nicotine’s possible anti-aging qualities on actual aged animals. “I want to make it very clear that we’re not encouraging people to smoke,” Winzer-Serhan said. “Even if these weren’t very preliminary results, smoking results in so many health problems that any possible benefit of the nicotine would be more than canceled out.”

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