Nicotine May Help Combat Memory Loss
Nicotine couldِ help people withِ early memory loss maintain orِ improve theirِ attention andِ memory, a newِ study suggests.
The earlier youِ canِ intervene, theِ better, Newhouse said.
We wantِ toِ treat people asِ early asِ we canِ andِ save asِ much brain function asِ we can.
The study is published today (Jan. 9) in the journal Neurology.
Signs of improvement
Researchers atِ Vanderbilt studied theِ effects ofِ nicotine onِ 67 nonsmokers age 55 orِ older whoِ hadِ mild cognitive impairment, a precursor toِ diseases suchِ asِ Alzheimer’s disease.
People withِ mild cognitive impairment haveِ memory, language, thinking andِ judgment problems thatِ areِ noticeable toِ themselvesِ andِ their families, butِ areِ not seriousِ enoughِ to interfere withِ day-to-day life.
Researchers divided theِ study participants intoِ two groups.
Mimics a brain chemical
Nicotine works toِ improve thinking skills becauseِ it mimics a normallyِ occurring chemical inِ the brain, acetylcholine.
It hasِ the sameِ three-dimensional structure, soِ itِ fits theِ receptor, Newhouse said.
While researchers haveِ studied theِ effects ofِ nicotine onِ learning andِ memory forِ many years, thisِ study, funded byِ the National Institutes ofِ Health, isِ the oneِ ofِ the firstِ to lookِ atِ early memory loss.
This is the longest study [to date], and they’re showing improvement, Evins said.
Some ofِ study’s data show thatِ people withِ mild cognitive impairment whoِ takeِ nicotine didn’tِ improve, butِ alsoِ didn’t getِ worse, andِ that’s stillِ important, Evins said.
This begs theِ question ofِ whether nicotine mayِ beِ a viable treatment forِ mild cognitive impairment, sheِ said.
Both Evins andِ Newhouse saidِ future studies shouldِ lookِ atِ the effects ofِ nicotine inِ a larger group ofِ people.