Nicotine has been proven to prevent Alzheimers symptoms

Friday 12 September, 2014 

  • Find out why e-fags are not a total menace

  • Big news about nicotine... maybe it isn’t all bad

  • Could you make a difference to a special day near you?


There is a right old kerfuffle going on about electronic cigarettes right now.

On the one hand there are those saying that the steam from them still contains nicotine and this can be a cause of passive cancer.

The contra-argument is that they help hopelessly addicted smokers kick the habit and offer a much healthier option.

As a reformed bad boy (well I did smoke a few cigarettes once at a party when I thought I might pass as James Dean in the eyes of the gorgeous Lisa – can’t say they helped though!)... I can sort of see both sides.

Cigarettes are undoubtedly bad news; the nicotine is the least of the problems with them though.

Harsh chemicals are used in the growing of the tobacco leaf, and even more used to preserve them in store... then more are added to flavour and keep the evil sticks alight.

It’s this cocktail of tars and carcinogenic chemicals which pose the biggest risk, not the nicotine itself.

This is just the drug that hooks you onto the fags, and keeps you coming back for more.

But even this villain of the piece has been shown to have some serious potential to help dementia sufferers.

“What’s this,” I hear you cry, “are you about to make a claim that a 20-a-day habit will keep your mind pin sharp?”

Let me be clear about this one – NO!

Smoking cigarettes is not the answer, but the nicotine might well be – let me explain.

Dementia and the big drag

According to researchers from King's College London, nicotine can be good for the brain.

In fact, its effects could be so powerful that nicotine could be used to prevent (or at least slow down) the onset of Alzheimer's.

Now then, if I think about it, this shouldn't come as a total surprise. I remember my Grandad saying how he got a mental buzz from cigarettes, and how they helped him focus.

And loads of my smoker friends (now nearly all ex-smokers) would say that smoking helped steady their nerves and helped them think straight.

But I put this down to part of the addiction. If they weren't getting their fix, their withdrawal systems would make them feel muddled, irritable and unfocused.

But it seems they really were getting a mental boost.

In tests, the researchers found that nicotine improved learning, memory and performance on cognitive tasks by up to 15%.

Well, those were the results on rats at least.

When the rats were surrounded by flashing lights and random sounds, the ones who'd been given the nicotine found it easier to concentrate on working their way round a maze than the ones who hadn't.

Maybe that's why there are all those smokers huddled outside offices. It has nothing to do with the ban - they just found their way out of the building first.

Anyway, I think I've heard it all now...

Smoking could do you some good. I never thought I'd be writing that sentence.

Of course, the negative effects far outweigh this one positive, but it just goes to show that it's stupid to write off anything.

Of course, I'm not saying you should go out and smoke a packet of fags before you sit an exam...

I'm simply saying that in certain cases some good can come from what we are told is pure evil.

And for that fact I am looking forward to further research about nicotine and the brain as this might be the best news we’ve seen for ages in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s.

But of course research costs money...

...Maybe the makers of the e-cigarettes might be missing a marketing trick here – but as it happens, they do have a chance to make a difference very soon.

Big days... big issues... can you help?

Right now we are in the middle of both Fibromyalgia Awareness Week and Migraine Awareness Week.

Next Week is National Eczema Week, and the one after that is National Eye Week... and my favourite on the 25th September...

World Contraception Day!

Imagine what the balloons look like for that one... cue teenage schoolboy humour and much Viz-type japery.

The thing is that these are all incredibly worthy causes, but during September alone there are 34 days or weeks being promoted – do they do any good?

I suspect that the marketing departments at the various charities and groups would argue that they have done their job by me recognising that they exist and passing the message on.

But in all seriousness have we gone too far with the special event calendar?

The risk is that we do ignore something important without these focal dates, often the importance relates to something personal.

In my case I have had September 21st marked on my calendar for the last few months as it is World Alzheimer's Day.

On this day Alzheimer's Disease International will publish the latest world report which highlights global risk reduction and treatment strategies for various forms of dementia.

As many of you know, Alzheimer's has struck pretty close to home – my dad to be precise.

Since his diagnosis a few years ago we have rallied around him and offered support and understanding.

In addition my research has shown how keeping him mentally active with puzzles and challenges as well as getting him physically active with regular exercise and trips out with the family can preserve his function, if not reverse the effects of this hateful condition.

One of the organised events we will all be taking part in as a family is a Memory Walk.

Visit the Memory Walk website to find a local event to you.

These are fundraising events and everyone is encouraged to try to raise a little sponsorship money – don’t worry this isn’t a pitch to my readers for sponsor money, I would sooner that you did your bit or paid straight to the charity rather than sponsor!

Dad is holding his own, thankfully, but there are many out there who need help, so feel free to help however you can.

Maybe even spark up a nicotine rich e-cigarette and donate what it would have cost you for a pack of fags to the campaign!

Yours, as always





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