Scientists find out how cigarettes affect women's brains and why it's so hard to quit smoking

Yulia LoseynkoSociety
Professor Erika Comasco studied the effects of nicotine on the female brain.

Scientists have long argued that the difference between women and men is not really that great. But among the few differences, there is one rather sad one: women do have a harder time quitting smoking.

According to The Sun, Swedish researchers from Uppsala University seem to have found the reason why this is the case. It's about the production of the female hormone estrogen, which even one cigarette can block.

According to Professor Erika Comasco, scientists have shown for the first time that nicotine blocks the mechanism of production of this hormone in the female brain. "We were surprised to see that this effect can be seen even with a single dose of nicotine, equivalent to just one cigarette, which shows how much smoking affects women's brains," the researcher said.

She also stressed that this effect was discovered recently and that there is still a lot of work to be done to study it in depth. In particular, scientists will test what behavioural and cognitive consequences this phenomenon has. However, it can already be noted that the brain system affected by smoking is a target for addictive drugs such as nicotine.

To identify this phenomenon, Swedish researchers gave ten healthy women a dose of nicotine equivalent to that contained in one cigarette. After that, they were injected with a radioactive tracer that attached to a molecule called aromatase, an enzyme involved in the production of estrogen.

All processes were studied using MRI and PET brain scans. This helped to determine the amount of estrogen in the body and to find out where it was located in the brain. The results showed that a single dose of nicotine moderately reduced the amount of aromatase in the brain, which meant a decrease in the amount of estrogen in the female body. The next step will be to conduct a similar study on men.

According to Professor Comasco, her group has succeeded in demonstrating the effect of nicotine on the brain, and they intend to study its impact on other functions, such as the reproductive system.

The scientist stressed that there are indeed differences in how men and women react to smoking. "Women are likely to be more resistant to nicotine replacement therapy, relapse more often, are more susceptible to smoking heredity, and are at greater risk of developing primary smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and heart attacks," she said. Scientists need to understand whether the effect of nicotine on the hormonal system is associated with any of these reactions. But this will require a large sample of women. However, the researchers plan to present their findings at the congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Vienna, Austria.

As reported by OBOZREVATEL, earlier cardiologists spoke in detail about the effects of smoking on the heart and blood vessels. Its destructive effect does not depend on gender.

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