Mutually dependent

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Alcoholics are often heavy smokers too. The link has its roots in the brain, say researchers. Neuroscientists at the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, US, have found that alcohol and nicotine, the chemical in tobacco, affect the same protein, the acetylcholine receptor molecule, on a brain cell. Experiments conducted on rats revealed that this receptor is extremely sensitive to alcohol. So while a drink makes the receptor less sensitive to nicotine, smokers need more nicotine to get a fix. As a result, there are more puffs after a drink ( New Scientist , Vol 152, No 2057).

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