Skip to comments.Why Smokers Are Skinny
Posted on 06/12/2011 12:02:11 AM PDT by neverdem
Craving an afternoon snack? Take a drag on a cigarette, and your hunger will likely disappear. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths in the Unites States and other developed countries, causing lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic bronchitis. But smokers are, on average, skinnier than nonsmokers. New research reveals how nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, works in the brain to suppress smokers' appetites. The finding also pinpoints a new drug target for nicotine withdrawal—and weight loss.
The nicotine receptor in the brain has 15 subunits; they can combine in a multitude of ways to form different receptors with different jobs. Nicotine can bind to each combination and spur a cascade of distinct events; some lead to the addictive properties of cigarettes, others to an increase in blood pressure or a feeling of relaxation. It's long been known that nicotine causes a slump in appetite, and scientists suspected that this worked through receptors associated with reward and behavior reinforcement. After all, the brain considers both cigarettes and food to be rewards. But the new finding suggests that appetite has its own pathway.
Behavioral neuroscientist Marina Picciotto of Yale University set out to study whether activating one particular nicotine receptor, dubbed α3β4, had antidepressant effects on mice. But as postdoctoral researcher Yann Mineur was caring for the mice, which had received drugs engineered to stimulate only α3β4 receptors, he noticed a side effect: the mice were eating less.
"Before this study, we really didn't think that this type of receptor would have such a big role in the brain in food intake," Picciotto says. She and Mineur went on to show that nicotine does, in fact, bind to α3β4 receptors, which then send a signal throughout the rest of the brain, signaling satiety. It's indistinguishable from the signal the brain propagates after eating a large meal. Mice that received the drug binding to the α3β4 receptor ate half the amount of food as untreated mice in the 2 hours following administration of the drug. Their body fat dropped 15% to 20% over 30 days, the team reports online today in Science.
Since the weight gain that comes with stopping smoking is often one deterrent for smokers to quit, Picciotto suggests that the new pathway could be targeted by pharmaceuticals to suppress appetite during the initial stages of smoking cessation. In addition, such a drug could have wider reach as an appetite suppressant to aid in weight loss, without the health hazards tied to cigarette smoke.
Neil Grunberg, a behavioral neuroscientist at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, was the first to prove, through rat studies in 1982, that nicotine causes a decrease in appetite. He says the new study is a step forward in understanding the phenomenon he first observed.
"Most people had accepted that the decrease in appetite was caused through a dopamine-reward pathway and left it at that," Grunberg says. "So I think the most important contribution of this paper is to prove that there is another whole pathway that nicotine is working through."
Grunberg notes, however, that the study looks only at male mice. In his previous work, he has found differences in the effects of nicotine on weight between males and females. Females, he says, experience larger weight loss when they start smoking and a larger weight gain if they quit. Whether this means nicotine is working through an additional, hormone-regulated pathway in the female brain is yet to be determined.
Picciotto says her group is repeating the experiments on female mice. "We're also still trying to get back to that original question we had," she says: "Does this also have antidepressant actions?"
>>FOOD WAS DISGUSTING, but I put on a LOT of weight. More than some calorie counter can account for, even in a worst case scenario.<<
Wow, I am amazed. I have talked to other ex-smokers and they had the same reaction as I (and I had not heard of what you experienced until this post). But we see in the article and some follow-ups that the body does weird (and unfair!) things when we kick the habit.
>>As a previous poster said, its far easier to tell the never-smoked from the reformed smokers. If they only knew how utterly foolish they ARE.<<
We had a family reunion a few years ago. My sisters and brothers had all quit smoking (I was the only really smoking addict and I had quit by that time). The next generation had stayed smoke-free. But the LATTER generation (my grand nieces and nephews) were smoking.
And you can tell them about the expense, the wheezing, the difficulty in quitting, etc. etc. etc. It is like yelling at the wall.
It was discouraging but some of them have quit. We can have hope.
I went to the site directly from the links here on FR. The first post there is:
Posted At : May 24, 2011 6:05 PM | Posted By : Alan McCollough
Related Categories: Money
This is a note more for myself rather than for the general public, but whatever. For the last year, I paid to subscribe to Trader Fred’s info over at www.tsp.gov. Can’t say the performance was any good, though, so it’s back to going solo.
Today, I moved my TSP allocations into the S fund, which equates to the Dow Jones U.S. Completion Total Stock Market Index, aka $DWCPF.
So, today, May 24th, $DWCPF is trading at $699.06. I’ll have to keep an eyeball on it if it starts tanking, and bail out. Or, if it shoots up, may be I leap out and capture profits. Or just do nothing at all or let ‘er ride.
There is a DUDE’s name attached, if you follow.
Don Don Don!!!!
Dial it down a little!!!! ;) :)
We ALL get/got frustrated with the weight penalty, especially when we were pretty proud of looking not half bad.
Part of me has been interested in those new electronic cigarette. But I am SO paranoid about it leading me back to the real thing I just put the thought away.
You and I both know it is true: cigarette addiction is the worst monkey on your back ever. And we also know ONE PUFF will land us back into wheeze-land smoking.
I have never used heroin, but all I have read says it is harder to kick smoking than H.
It makes me feel a little better when I watch Cops and see H and Meth addicts... ;)
With the increasingly high cost of cigarettes, they can’t afford to eat.
Geez, Don. You’re an adult. Start smoking again. It’s okay.
Unfortunately the stupid part of my brain has bigger biceps than the smart part. So we do what the stupid part tells us to.
>>I understand the resentment of smoke nazis but the f flame should be used more selectively<<
I cannot speak for Don, but I can say there is an ever-present undercurrent of anger for people who quit smoking after having started. Yes, it was us who started (I was 11 yo btw) and yes it was us who later had to take the hit for that.
I really feel for Don, since at least I got to enjoy that which made me larger.
But there is always that feeling we were sort of ripped off — and that we had to shed something we enjoyed immensely. For MARRIED non-smokers, imagine having to give up sex (which has a smoking component as well). FOREVER. And being afraid to look at porn.. (OK, that is as far as I will draw out the analogy).
That is what we did. And we have a lot of resentment — at least I do.
And as an ex-smoker you know of what I speak W/D.
I leave it to Don to follow up, according to his own conscience.
there is a pix of a blonde smoker on my homepage five one...105...that’s one
I smoked till 34....20 years ago....six five 190 then ..... 225 now
Laura Bush, Sela Ward, Ann Coulter, Lauren Hutton, Peggy Noonan, obama, Nicole kidman, my Daughters...also on page all thinnish
However...yes...lower class whites and many minorities who tend to be fat...esp...the women....also smoke
Its drive, lack of discipline and little sense of responsibility...it’s not a coincidence they are fatter, poorer and smoke....although with this economy lots of new uptown poor folks now too with just bad luck
It is enough to start smoking...
>>Unfortunately the stupid part of my brain has bigger biceps than the smart part. So we do what the stupid part tells us to.<<
So many jokes, so few that can follow FR rules..
I thought this was common knowledge about nicotine (from chew as well as smoke).
If it’s a man then he can defend himself...my bad...but the moniker sure sounded catladyish
I would never F on a known freeper woman..not even Howlin back in the day
>>I would never F on a known freeper woman..not even Howlin back in the day<<
A gentleman never does. Now, when it gets fun is when people mis-gender Kristinn...
So, what rule did I break there, skippy? lol
Tricking your brain is probably not a good idea over the long run.
Ask any liberal...
Thanks for the calming words. They actually helped.
I also apologize to any I offended with my undisciplined misuse of language. I know better, but let frustration get the better of me. 12 hour OT days sometimes do that, and I feel badly about losing myself that easily. That’s not an excuse, but an attempt at explanation.
>>So, what rule did I break there, skippy? lol<<
You didn’t break any rules. It is my response that would have done so. Just think about how a smarta$$ might have responded to that post in a locker room...
You should have just told it. How bad could it be? ;^)
>>I know better, but let frustration get the better of me. <<
And, well, Don, you are the first FReeper that has EVER happened to! Good thing it was on a friendly thread!
(Classy apology if anyone wants my opinion...)
I too *WAS* skinny until I quit smoking. A little bit under 6’ and 150-160. Quit, and as I said above, KABOOM, 50 lbs in 6 months.
I now look at pics and wonder who the bonerack is, until I recognize/identify my bent nose...
>>The stupid part of my brain has bigger biceps than the smart part.<<
Something along the lines of “the controlling part of my brain has veins but no biceps and thinks it is the smart part...”
I can go no further...