Study: Why we like coffee with the nicotine

Coffee affects nicotine receptors in the brain. And for those who are addicted to nicotine, a cup of coffee in the morning can enhance the feeling of well-being at the first nicotine dose of the day. This is according to a study from the University of Florida.

Most people who have ever smoked know that smoking and coffee go hand in hand. For many, it is an important ritual to utilise not just one, but two, stimulants: caffeine and nicotine, during the first chaotic hour of the morning. But now a new study shows that there may be more than just a feeling and ritual behind the habit.

Coffee suppresses nicotine receptors

Researchers at the University of Florida investigated how substances in dark roasted coffee beans affect certain nicotine receptors in the brain. It was found that two specific substances reduced the sensitivity of nicotine receptors. This in turn may balance the effect of nicotine, which can sometimes be particularly strong after a night of withdrawal.

"Coffee in the morning means something different for smokers than for non-smokers. The results could be important for understanding how smokers react to withdrawal and something behavioural scientists could look at more closely," says the author. Roger L. Papke, a professor of pharmacology at the UF College of Medicine in Florida told the online magazine Neuroscience News.

Alcohol also affects nicotine

Previous studies have shown that alcohol also affects how nicotine is perceived by users. It was this relationship that prompted researchers in Florida to also look at the effects of coffee and possibly caffeine, a substance that has basically the same effects as nicotine on the body.

'Smokers like to have a cigarette with their coffee in the morning and often with alcohol in the evening. It's fascinating. This is certainly a cellular study, but it gives us the beginnings of knowledge about how substances in coffee and nicotine interact by affecting nicotine receptors," says Roger L. Papke in Neuroscience.


Study: Coffee and cigarettes: Modulation of high and low sensitivity α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by n-MP, a biomarker of coffee consumption.

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