Smoking Is 'Good for Your Memory and Concentration'

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Smoking can
help boost memory and concentration, say scientists. The discovery
offers hope of a nicotine pill that mimics these effects to treat
Alzheimer’s disease.

Experts are
developing drugs that copy the active ingredients in tobacco that
stimulate the brain without causing heart disease, cancer, stroke
or addiction.

The move follows
the discovery that nicotine can boost the intelligence and recall
ability of animals in laboratory experiments.

The researchers,
who present their latest findings at a brain conference today, hope
that the new drugs, which will be available in five years, could
have fewer side effects than existing medicines for dementia.

But they stress
the new treatment would not be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. At
best it will only give patients a few extra months of independent
life.

Tobacco has
long been known to have a stimulating effect on the brain. Victorian
doctors recommended smoking as a means of sharpening the wits and
boosting concentration.

However, the
deadly side effects of cancer, stroke and heart disease, mean its
benefits have been neglected by medical research.

Professor Ian
Stoleman, from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London,
has shown that nicotine can improve the performance of rats in an
intelligence and memory test.

"The substances
that we call drugs have, in the majority of cases, do have a mixture
of beneficial and harmful effects and nicotine no exception to this,"
he said.

"When
we started this work 10 years ago we didn’t think that we would
find beneficial effects on cognitive performance on normal subjects.

"But we
were able to find an effect in the sense of the acute administration
of nicotine producing small improvements in performance of tasks
in normal rats."

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the rest of the article

July
13, 2010

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