New research by scientists with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, suggests that some of the racial and ethnic differences underlying how adults’ bodies metabolize nicotine also are at work during adolescence. The findings have implications for the way teens of different racial and ethnic backgrounds are provided smoking cessation treatments. The study is published in the January 2006 issue of Ethnicity and Disease.
“Previous research in adults showed that black smokers take in 30 percent more nicotine per cigarette and take longer to rid their bodies of the drug, compared to white smokers,” says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. “The current findings, among the first on adolescent nicotine metabolism, reveal that these differences are in effect during the teen years, as well.”
“Because nicotine plays an active role in smoking reinforcement, these variations may influence early onset addiction to tobacco,” Dr. Volkow adds. “Thus, these findings may constitute a strong warning to black youth to keep from smoking in the first place. They also may explain why certain smoking cessation therapies work better in some populations than in others, and therefore, which treatments should be offered to which teens.”
The study results remained statistically significant after controlling for smoking menthol cigarettes. Recent findings have suggested that menthol might increase the addictiveness of tobacco, and that menthol may play a role in inhibiting nicotine metabolism. Studies also have indicated that blacks show a preference for menthol cigarettes compared to white smokers.
Sara Rosario Wilson
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