VT Researchers Question Safety of Nicotine Patches

Blacksburg, VA - Newly published research out of Virginia Tech provides even more evidence that smoking causes cancer - specifically breast cancer.

That research shows nicotine appears to be just as dangerous as the other chemicals in cigarettes.

Because of this research, questions are arising about the potential danger from using a popular form of smoking control: Nicotine Patches.

Using next generation genome sequencing methods, researchers at Virginia Tech have been able to get a better look at what effect nicotine has on the health of a pure cell.

Dr. Skip Garner oversees the research and says this is just the beginning.

"We have concluded from this study that a number of changes that take place in these cells after exposure to nicotine resemble that of a standard cancerous cell. So it's driving those cells to a cancerous state," said Garner.

Dr. Jasmin Bavarva is lead author of the study.

The research uses healthy cells that are hit with a dose of nicotine.

They extract the RNA and document all the genes to see which are affected and which aren't.

Several known cancer genes are affected as are several unknown genes.

There are several genes we don't know exist. Even nicotine changes their expression. We don't know what those genes do even. So that's a big deal," said Bavarva.

One thing for sure is the number of breast cancer indicators created were significant - which led to researchers to point out that specific cancer of many.

It also has them wondering if the treatment to stop smoking, using nicotine patches, is something that needs to be reconsidered.

"Especially when it is used as a therapeutic and if that therapeutic has danger in it we should probably look into it," said Garner.

Follow up research is currently underway at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute that takes this nicotine research further.

Within the next few months, researchers plan on releasing information that shows, not only which genes are affected, but how badly mutated nicotine affected genes actually are.

Read more about the study here.

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