Nicotine suppresses appetite and scientists may be able to duplicate this with a different drug.
ScienceDaily (June 10, 2011) — Smokers tend to die young, but they tend to die thinner than non-smokers. A team of scientists led by Yale School of Medicine has discovered exactly how nicotine suppresses appetite -- findings that suggest that it might be possible to develop a drug that would help smokers, and non-smokers, stay thin.
Nicotine activates a small set of neurons in a section of the hypothalamus that signals the body has had enough to eat, the researchers report in the June 10 issue of the journal Science. Nicotine accomplishes this trick by activating a different set of receptors on the surface of neurons than those that trigger a craving for tobacco.
"Unfortunately, smoking does keep weight off," said Marina Picciotto, the Charles B.G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry, professor of neurobiology and pharmacology and senior author of the paper. "Many people say they won't quit smoking because they'll gain weight. Ultimately, we would like to help people maintain their body weight when they kick the habit and perhaps help non-smokers who are struggling with obesity."