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Nicotine blocks estrogen production in women

Molecular biologists have found that even relatively small doses of nicotine block the production of the hormone estrogen in women's brain tissues.

This has an adverse effect on both the work of the nervous system and the sex, reported the press service of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECN), quoted by TASS and BTA.

“There are substantial differences in how smoking affects the behavior of men and women. The latter generally respond less well to intervention therapy, are more likely to relapse, and are more likely to develop smoking-related diseases. Understanding how nicotine affects the hormonal system will help us uncover the reasons for the existence of these differences,” said Erika Comasco of Uppsala University (Sweden), quoted in the press release.

For the purpose of the study, Comasco and her colleagues observed how nicotine affects the nervous system of ten young girls who agreed to participate in the experiment. During the tests, the scientists injected the active substance of the cigarettes into the noses of the volunteers and followed how this procedure affects brain activity and the production of various hormones.

In order to get the necessary information, the scientists injected into the blood the girl’s special molecules that bind to the enzymes that produce hormones and “illuminate” these proteins with the help of radioactive markers. This has allowed scientists to observe how nicotine intake affects the activity of given peptides and their associated signaling molecules.

Subsequent observations have shown that even small doses of nicotine significantly reduce the concentration of the enzyme CYP19A1, responsible for the production of molecules of the sex hormone estrogen. The decrease was mainly observed in the deep layers of the brain and did not affect other tissues in the volunteers’ bodies to such an extent. These changes in estrogen production most affected the thalamus, the part of the brain responsible for analyzing, selecting, and relaying to the cortex the signals received from all the senses.

The results of the tests turned out to be surprising for scientists because in the past researchers did not find a connection between smoking and disorders in the hormonal system of women. The biologists hope that further experiments and observations will help them understand exactly how blocking the production of estrogen in the brain affects the behavior of women and their reproductive system.

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