21 FEB 2020

Menthol can increase nicotine addiction

Recent studies have shown that smoking menthol cigarettes actually increases nicotine addiction by manipulating the brain. People who smoke menthol cigarettes typically smoke more than other smokers and are less likely to quit. This has been known previously, but in an experiment mice were given menthol alone, which caused them to develop more nicotine receptors.

The longer you smoke cigarettes, the more nicotine receptors are created in your brain and other parts of the body that involve neural pathways for reward and motivation, much the same way alcohol and drug addiction skews the mind. Adding menthol to the mix makes things even more difficult. In a study, about 50 percent of people smoking unflavored cigarettes were able to quit, compared with 23 percent of menthol cigarette smokers.

These nicotinic receptors are located throughout the brain and can affect different regions. Menthol primarily affects the ventral tegmental area, which is involved with the dopamine signaling pathway associated with addition. Scientists saw a 78 percent increase in these receptors in this specific region. In addition to it being a good idea to quit smoking, menthol seems to be the bigger culprit now. Time to pack up the chewing gum, too, for other substitutes.