A single cigarette can have a big impact on a woman’s brain, and that’s probably why it’s harder for women to quit smoking than men. Uimportant discovery as the “month without tobacco” begins on Tuesday, November 1.
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Swedish researchers have discovered that the dose of nicotine contained in a single cigarette blocks the production of estrogen, the female hormone, in the brains of women. More specifically in the thalamus, a part of the emotional brain that plays an essential role in behavior, emotions such as pleasure. It’s a perfect target for addictive drugs.
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These scientists administered a dose of nicotine intranasally to ten healthy female volunteers. They then injected a radioactive product capable of attaching itself to the protein that produces estrogen. Thanks to an MRI and a brain scan, the research team was able to see the amount of protein decrease. This probably explains why women find it difficult to quit smoking and why they relapse more often than men. Yet the amount of nicotine in a cigarette is quite low.
This is what surprised the researcher in charge of the study, according to her it demonstrates “how powerful the effects of smoking are on a woman’s brain”. Dr. Erika Comasco also believes that nicotine could have other effects on women, especially on their reproductive system. But she remains very cautious since her study involves only 10 women. It therefore intends to carry out work on a larger sample.
This discovery is in any case important when we know the harmful effects of tobacco, especially for women. Tobacco is responsible for one in five deaths among women under 65, according to figures from the Alliance Against Tobacco. Smoking has caused a dramatic increase in heart attacks and lung cancer, mainly among people under 50.
Despite everything, many women still smoke: in France, more than one woman in five smokes every day. This is one of the highest rates in the world, according to the National Anti-Smoking Committee.