Washington DC: A recent study delved into the complex relationship between cigarettes and alcohol has come up with an explanation as to why many boozers also are smokers.
Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine have found that nicotine cancels out the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol. It's a finding that sheds light on the reason alcohol and nicotine usage are so closely linked.
Researcher Mahesh Thakkar said that they found that nicotine weakens the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol by stimulating a response in an area of the brain known as the basal forebrain and by identifying the reactions that take place when people smoke and drink, they may be able to use this knowledge to help curb alcohol and nicotine addiction.
During the study, rats were fitted with sleep-recording electrodes and given alcohol and nicotine. The researchers found that nicotine acts via the basal forebrain to suppress the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol.
Thakkar noted that one of the adverse effects of drinking alcohol is sleepiness, but when used in conjunction with alcohol, nicotine acts as a stimulant to ward off sleep. If an individual smokes, then he or she is much more likely to consume more alcohol and vice-versa. They feed off one another.
This research has implications to improve health, not only for heavy drinkers and smokers, but also for individuals with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, which often is associated with smoking.
The study appears in Journal of Neurochemistry.