Does nicotine, the infamous substance in cigarettes, actually cause lung cancer? It is known that cigarettes are harmful, but what is the relationship between nicotine and lung cancer?
Lung cancer is usually associated with cigarettes. In fact, cigarettes kill more people with lung cancer than all other cancers combined. Cigarettes are undeniably an unhealthy habit, but what exactly makes them so deadly? Is it the nicotine?
Nicotine exists naturally in the tobacco plant, and it can affect your nervous system. In low doses, nicotine relaxes the user. When higher doses are administered, it has stimulative effects on the person, making the person more alert or anxious. Nicotine is addictive and contributes to the overall difficulty in quitting cigarettes.
But the fact that nicotine is addictive doesn’t make it carcinogenic (cancer causing). To date, no sound scientific research has been able to find that nicotine causes lung cancer or any other cancer. Furthermore, research has shown that nicotine by itself is not all that addictive. When people switch to nicotine gum and patches that only deliver nicotine, they find that nicotine dependency is far easier to wane than the cigarettes themselves.
So what is actually causing cancer in cigarettes? The short answer is the collective smoke. As tobacco leaves burn, thousands of chemicals such as carbon monoxide, tar, and free radicals are generated. When these things are inhaled, they damage your lung tissue. Not only does this make the lungs more prone to bacterial and viral infections, the damages may cause cells to turn into cancer. This is how cigarettes actually work their dark magic.
In conclusion, nicotine does not cause lung cancer. This is the reason that nicotine gum and patches are allowed on the store shelves. Think about it, if nicotine was carcinogenic, would the FDA allow them to be sold as anti-smoking supplements? After all, it makes little sense to use a carcinogen to quit another. When you light up, it’s the thousands of other chemicals in smoke, not the nicotine, that cause lung cancer. Cigarettes can kill you with their smoke, with or without nicotine.