The secret of the “coffee-cigarette”: a line of research

One this beginning of the weekend, a small revelation and not least, about the secrets of the effectiveness of the coffee-cigarette alliance. You may be having your coffee, and maybe your first cigarette. Details of Mathilde Fontez, editor-in-chief of the magazine epsilon.

franceinfo: Does this coffee-cigarette association, which smokers like so much, have a chemical explanation?

Mathilde Fontez: This is revealed by researchers at the University of Florida : the coffee-cigarette is not just a ritual. It is a true pharmacological synergy. Coffee makes cigarettes more effective at filling the void after withdrawal, especially after dark. And it also works after the meal.

Do caffeine and nicotine go together?

Not directly. Rather, it is the coffee that acts on some of the nicotine-sensitive receptors in the brain. What the researchers do is simply soak human brain cells in coffee in petri dishes. And they studied how the different components of coffee, caffeine, but not only, acted on cells. They then found that two of them, called choline and n-MP, actually act on certain nicotinic receptors.

In particular n-MP: participates in the restoration of brain receptor dysfunction that leads to nicotine craving in smokers. Basically, when we are deficient, these receptors become ultrasensitive. And the n-MP inhibits them.

Does this explain why smokers often reach for coffee with their first cigarette?

Yes, it is very simple because with coffee the calming effect due to the disappearance of the craving is stronger than without coffee. So this research is at a preliminary stage at the moment: studies on cells are not enough. More brain tests are needed to fully understand and quantify this mechanism.

But now, investigators see a clue to appease the lack of nicotine in smokers, fight against addiction, and why not develop devices, drugs, abstinence.

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