It’s Not Big, It’s Not Clever But It Turns Out Smoking Could Lower Parkinson’s Risk

Posted on Sep 12 2010 - 10:37pm by Matt Jackson

We’re constantly bombarded about facts and figures regarding the perils of smoking and it’s impossible to shy away from the increasing cost of fuelling the habit. For the sake of equality and balanced arguments, though, you may also like to know that a chemical that is found in cigarette smoke and is also found in coffee can help to prolong the life of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. For those without a biology degree, that means that smoking may actually prevent the tremors that are associated with Parkinson’s disease.

The onset of Parkinson’s is caused by the dopamine producing cells in the brain dying off; something which naturally occurs in many of us as we age. Smoking and drinking coffee are believed to prevent the killing off of these cells and so University of Washington scientists did what all good scientists do when faced with a challenge like this – they tested their theories on flies.

In fact, Leo Pallanck and his team of researchers used previously modified flies that had been genetically engineered so that these cells would die off quicker. We don’t think they forced a pack of 20 Regal and 4 cups of Costa Americano down their neck, but exposing them to coffee and tobacco extracts prevented the death of the cells and therefore prolonged the lives of the flies.

It’s not believed to be the nicotine or the caffeine that have these somewhat remarkable properties, so don’t expect to go back to days when doctors would proffer a cigarette to patients, but you can bet that further research will be done to find out what it is as the researchers plan to carry out more tests on the now wired flies.

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Source:- Scientific American

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