Why does nicotine help you lose weight?

Illustration for article titled Why does nicotine help you lose weight?

Apart from its laundry list of negative consequences, smoking is known to do one or two good things for you — it'll help you lose weight, and there's some evidence it can prevent Parkinson's. New research has picked apart just how nicotine helps keep you skinny, potentially opening the way to new weight loss techniques, and stopping people from the typical weight gain associated with trying to quit.

New research published in Science today shows what's going on in the brain when smoking makes you less hungry. There are nicotine receptors all throughout your brain, but the ones in the hypothalamus affect hunger. Researchers discovered that the α3β4 nicotinic receptor, located on neurons in the hypothalamus, suppresses your appetite when activated by smoking.

The researchers are hoping to use their discovery as a way to help people quit smoking without worrying about gaining weight, and possibly to create new methods for controlling obesity.

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I noticed when I tried the lozenges I ate more too, and at first I was getting more nicotine than when i smoked. My theory is the physical act of smoking feeds some part of the self that makes you feel like you are doing something productive. Not necessarily chemically, but emotionally. I tried a bunch of suggestions as far as "habits", but the only ones that seemed to take were ones that gave me the feeling that I was doing something of interest to my physical self.