Smoking is still a very dangerous way to get the chemical, though
Smoking may cause cancer and brain damage -- and even damage electronics -- but one of the primary chemicals in cigarette smoke, nicotine, holds promise in improving the lives of those with the mental illness schizophrenia, according to a new medical study. Nicotine is a stimulant, similar to caffeine, but more potent. It is also a procarcinogen, as the liver converts it in small quantities to carcinogenic derivatives.
The new study, led by Ruth Barr, a psychiatrist at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, looked at the effects of nicotine on patients' cognitive function, such as planning and memory in social and work settings. According to Dr. Barr, improvement cognitive function is the most critical need for those suffering from the disease. She states, "We know that patients that do better in the long term are those with good cognitive function rather than improvement in any other symptom."
Prior to the study only beneficial effects of nicotine being used to overcome smoking withdrawal symptoms were used. The new study, involved dosing the patients with nicotine. Describes Dr. Barr, "(W)e would ask participants to go without a cigarette for 12 hours and then provide a single dose of nicotine and measure cognitive function."