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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Nicotine Has Effect Similar to Heroin, Cocaine, Study Indicates

July 18, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

Nicotine acts on the brain in a similar way to drugs such as cocaine and heroin and could be just as addictive, according to Italian scientists. Researchers from the University of Cagliari report in the July 18 issue of the journal Nature that their work goes a long way toward refuting claims by the smoking lobby that tobacco is merely habit-forming rather than addictive.

The scientists said experiments on rats showed that nicotine stimulated local energy metabolism and the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the part of the brain associated with emotional expression. The effects are the same as those triggered by cocaine and heroin and have been linked with addiction, they reported.

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