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Experts Say Nicotine Has Health Benefits

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NEW ORLEANS, Nov 12, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Scientists meeting in New Orleans this week are sharing research into the health benefits of nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco.

New Scientist magazine said one recent study found that one of nicotine's metabolites, cotinine, may improve memory and protect brain cells from diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Another study shows nicotine may help improve some of the learning and memory problems associated with hypothyroidism. Such studies suggest nicotine -- or drugs that mimic nicotine -- may help treat neurological disorders.

The research was presented during this week's meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

But Emory University neuroscientist Michael Kuhar told the magazine: "These findings don't mean people should smoke. Any benefits from the nicotine in cigarettes or other tobacco products are far outweighed by the proven harm of using those products."

He noted, however, pure nicotine-like compounds as medications do show promise for treating human disorders.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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