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

Yulia PoteriankoSociety
Professor Erica Comasco studied the effects of nicotine on the female brain

Scientists have long maintained that the difference between women and men is not really that great. But among the few differences, there is one rather sad one: it is indeed harder for women to quit smoking.

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

According to Professor Erica 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 emphasized that this effect was discovered recently and there is still a lot of work to be done to study it in depth. In particular, scientists will test what behavioral 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 in one cigarette. After that, they were injected with a radioactive label 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 determine the amount of estrogen in the body and find out where it is 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 Prof. Camasco, her group has demonstrated the effect of nicotine on the brain, and they intend to study its impact on other functions, such as the reproductive system.

The scientist emphasized that there are indeed differences in how men and women react to smoking. "Women seem to be more resistant to nicotine replacement therapy, they relapse more often, they are more prone to smoking heredity, and they 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 larger sample of women. However, the researchers plan to present the existing 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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