Men who smoke are more addicted to the actual nicotine than women

Healthcare for men and women has many overlaps, but some new research has indicated that we actually differ in the way cigarettes could affect us, which could also result in gender-specific cessation programs. Researchers, who published a study earlier this month in the Journal of Neuroscience by author Kelly Cosgrove, Ph.D., of Yale University used PET […]

Healthcare for men and women has many overlaps, but some new research has indicated that we actually differ in the way cigarettes could affect us, which could also result in gender-specific cessation programs.

Researchers, who published a study earlier this month in the Journal of Neuroscience by author Kelly Cosgrove, Ph.D., of Yale University used PET scans to make “dopamine activation movies” that would reveal how fast the release of dopamine occurred and where it occurred in different parts of the brain. The smoker’s brain’s response to nicotine is pretty rapid and brief, but this is the first research to look at how the brain responds during the actually act of smoking for both men and women, according to the Huffington Post.

In men, a part of the brain called the ventral striatum showed significantly more rapid and consistent dopamine activation when they were smoking as compared to women, who showed mild activation, if at all, and no consistency when it came to the speed of the activation. Women, on the other hand, showed significantly more dopamine activation — and fast activation — in the right dorsal putamen, whereas men showed only low or moderate activation in this area of the brain.

Apparently, the research has shown that men, neurobiologically, are more hooked on the actually nicotine, and women are getting more satisfaction from the “cues” of smoking – like the smell and taste.

If borne out in larger studies, Cosgrove’s findings could have implications for future, gender-specific treatment to help people quit smoking. But they may also explain why current cessation tools, like nicotine patches, seem to be more effective in men than in women. In men, a patch may provide all the nicotine that’s needed to satisfy a male smoker’s craving, while female smokers may miss the taste or smell of a cigarette if they’re using just a patch.

Kenneth Perkins, a psychiatry professor at the University of Pittsburgh, thinks that e-cigarettes and low-nicotine cigarettes might be a better way to help women wean themselves smoking if prescription drugs and counseling doesn’t help. Although, the research is lacking and Perkins says it’s “too soon” to know if this is factual.

“If [women] are smoking more for the taste and sensory effects, then low-nicotine cigarettes might be an effective way to wean themselves off the regular cigarettes, whereas men might have more nicotine withdrawal and not really get much out of those [low-nicotine] cigarettes,” said Perkins. “The possibility is that they might be a more effective way for women to quit than men, but that’s purely speculative at this point.”

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

It’s easy to put all of us in one group to try to understand health risks and susceptibility to disease, but if our brains are working differently, there’s much more to it, and it requires thorough exploration.