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Nicotine may accelerate atherosclerosis, may be as dangerous as tar
Date:9/13/2007

NEW YORK (Sept. 10, 2007) -- It's well known that smoking cigarettes increases risk for a host of serious health problems from cancer to heart disease. Now a new study from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City looks at how they do their dirty work by contributing to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The evidence points to nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes.

By comparing reduced-nicotine cigarettes like Quest 3 and Eclipse with regular cigarettes, researchers discovered that the extent of cigarette-smoke induced atherosclerosis in mice correlated with the levels of nicotine -- the higher the nicotine, the more disease.

"Right now, the general consensus is that the problem with cigarettes is tar and that nicotine is safe. That's why you can buy nicotine gum or patches to help you stop smoking. Our study presents new evidence that nicotine may not be safe at all, especially for your heart," says Dr. Daniel F. Catanzaro, principal investigator of the study, recently published in the journal Cardiovascular Toxicology. Dr. Catanzaro is associate research professor of physiology and biophysics in the Departments of Medicine and Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Previous studies have suggested that nicotine in cigarettes can hurt the heart by activating the sympathetic nervous system and increasing the heart rate -- potentially leading to fatal arrhythmias. (Nicotine also affects most organ systems -- including the gastrointestinal tract, the skin and the central nervous system.)

The new Weill Cornell study looked at two so-called "potentially reduced exposure products" (PREPs) -- Eclipse and Quest. Eclipse cigarettes work by heating inhaled air to activate its contents without burning the tobacco. Quest cigarettes are made with tobacco that is genetically-modified to have lower nicotine. Eclipse and Quest 3 have nicotine yields of 0.2 and 0.05 mg per cigarette, respectively.
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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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