Washington, July 12 (ANI): Researchers at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles and Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California have discovered why smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
They have found that nicotine promotes prediabetes, also known as insulin resistance, in smokers, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
The study's lead author, Theodore Friedman, chief of the endocrinology division at Charles Drew University, suggests previous theory that nicotine and cigarette smoking induce high levels of the stress hormone cortisol was correct.
Friedman said: "As cortisol excess is known to induce insulin resistance, it has been suggested that glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, are the missing [causative] link between cigarette smoking and insulin resistance".
Experts found that nicotine induced prediabetes, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The study authors were also able to undo some harmful effects of nicotine in mice to some extent by treating them with the nicotine antagonist mecamylamine, a drug that blunts the action of nicotine.
Friedman said: "Our results suggest that reducing tissue glucocorticoid levels or decreasing insulin resistance may reduce the heart disease seen in smokers. We anticipate that in the future there will be drugs to specifically block the effect of nicotine on glucocorticoids and insulin resistance."
The was presented at The Endocrine Society's 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. (ANI)