Many people are aware of the slimming effects of cigarettes. This is most evident in the weight gain so often seen in people who give up smoking. But the weight-control aspects of smoking leave many people wondering about the benefits of using nicotine gum as a less-damaging approach to dropping some pounds. Before attempting this, though, it's important to understand the ramifications of using any nicotine product. Consult your doctor before adopting any weight-loss program.
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Nicotine is an addictive drug, Vanderbilt University researcher Carrie Paulus reports. Many people struggle for years to break their habits; some never do. Nicotine gum was designed to help individuals slowly ease themselves off their addictions to nicotine without stopping cold turkey. The gum also eliminates the oral inhalation of the drug via cigarettes, which is very unhealthy and damages your lungs, heart and other parts of your body.
Nicotine has two weight-related benefits. According to "Health" magazine's website, it is a hunger suppressant — nicotine raises your body's blood glycogen levels, curbing your appetite. It also increases levels of dopamine — a neurotransmitter that alters mood and heightens happiness — in the brain. Food, particularly high-calorie food, raises dopamine levels, too. By using nicotine, you diminish the chemical desire for food.
Depending on your condition and smoking status, using nicotine gum might coincide with actual weight gain. This is because nicotine gum helps wean you off your dependency on cigarettes, which allows for greater nicotine intake. Additionally, smoking involves other factors that can keep weight off your body. If you transition from smoking to nicotine gum, you are more likely to experience some weight gain, "Health" reports. Only if a nonsmoker used nicotine would there be any potential weight loss resulting from nicotine.
Nicotine use can be very damaging to the body, Paulus advises. Most nicotine gums are only meant to be used for a limited period of time, as prolonged use can be damaging to the mouth and gums. Additionally, addiction is still possible with nicotine gum and could push you to other sources of the drug, including smoking. While gum is vastly less destructive than oral inhalation, it is by no means safe.
While nicotine can affect your weight by supressing hunger and elevating happiness, it's not a recommended approach to losing weight, Paulus confirms. Smokers tend to gain weight when they quit nicotine because they lose its slimming effects. As soon as you stop using nicotine, you will gain the weight you have been fending off, and if you don't use the drug it is unsafe to start using it purely for cosmetic reasons. The addiction could easily do more damage than good.