reply to post by Demoncreeper
While nicotine is indeed addictive, I would like to point out few things that keep getting glossed over on this subject. Thank you for bringing this
Nicotine is both a stimulant and a depressant. On the circulatory system, it acts as a stimulant raising blood pressure. This much I have seen on my
own self; if I need my BP dropped (as in for an occupational medical exam), I stop smoking for a few hours prior. On the nervous system, however, it
acts as a depressant, calming nerves. I myself am a severely type 'A' personality... without nicotine, I can become aggressive, obsessive, and even
violent. A few puffs on the old 'cancer sticks' and I become calm and meditative.
I have noticed over the years that this is a common observation in the smokers I know. Almost to a single person, each of them is naturally very
excitable and aggressive, even before beginning smoking. Each of them have improved control of their emotional state after smoking. That excitable
emotional state in itself is dangerous; when I am trying to temporarily lower my blood pressure I have to be sure I don't go too long between smokes,
or my BP will rise higher
apparently due to my agitated mental state.
It appears to this observer that the nicotine is acting to correct a chemical imbalance in the brain that leads to increased emotional stress. The
results of such stress are not well understood. I have read studies (which I cannot locate at this moment) that tie physical stress to cancer. This
makes sense, since cancer itself is an abnormality in the biochemical messengers that regulate cell growth and reproduction. The body is designed to
survive, and the flight-or-flight reaction which is an inherent part of this survival instinct encompasses a myriad of biochemical adjustments.
My question is this: is there a difference, so far as the human body is concerned, between physical stress and emotional stress? I say no, because the
perception of danger is not a purely physical occurrence. And if there is then no difference between physical and emotional stress reactions within
the body, and is it is suspected that physical stress can lead to cancer, why can emotional stress not also lead to cancer? It can, obviously, under
is one such biochemical messenger that lends itself to this concept. Cortisol is produced in
response to stress, similar to adrenaline. Excessive levels in blood serum lead to a condition known as
, which is marked by weight gain. Weight gain is also a known side
effect of smoking cessation, leading to the possibility of potential effects of nicotine on cortisol levels.
Now, if cortisol levels can be lowered by nicotine, and cortisol is a stress hormone, and stress is a contributor to cancer (all of which have some
basis in medical research), is it such a stretch to conclude the possibility of smoking as a method of self-medication for undiagnosed stress
disorders? This hypothesis does indeed explain why some people seem to wither away and perish shortly after quitting smoking in later life.
Someday, someone is going to do a real study into these possibilities. They will of course be dismissed and hounded for their efforts (just as many
will either dismiss or flame this post), but their results may well set the medical world on its ear. In the meantime, I will continue to smoke. I
have survived two heart attacks in my lifetime already, and in both cases there were two consistencies: I was extremely stressed out, and I ran out of
Incidentally, I now roll my own cigarettes. Soon I will be growing my own heirloom tobacco. At that point, I dare anyone to try and stop me from
smoking by legislation or force. It will be considered nothing short of an attack on my life, and responded to as such.