About Memory Loss and Nicotine
+ What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is most commonly known as an ingredient in cigarettes, but it may also have medicinal benefits. When not associated with smoking, researchers believe nicotine can stimulate brain systems associated with memory and attention and be used to treat conditions like memory loss, mental illness, and Parkinson’s disease.
+ Doesn’t Nicotine Cause Cancer?
Nicotine does not cause cancer. Fifty years of public health messaging has been instrumental in helping people understand that smoking is detrimental to your health and may cause cancer, however nicotine is not to blame. It’s the tar and thousands of other chemicals found in cigarettes that make smokers susceptible to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory issues. A small amount of nicotine absorbed through a patch on the skin is not the same as inhaling tar and other chemicals through the lungs while smoking.
+ Isn’t Nicotine Addictive?
Researchers have used nicotine in memory studies for more than 30 years, and there appears to be no risk of dependency or addiction when using the nicotine patch to treat mild memory loss or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In an earlier study, researchers used the nicotine patch to treat MCI in non-smokers, and there were no signs of withdrawal symptoms or cravings after stopping use of the patch. In this same study, participants using nicotine patches showed more improvement in attention and memory than those using the placebo patches containing no nicotine.
+ Does the Nicotine Patch Have Side Effects?
All medications can cause side effects, but most people have no, or minimal, side effects when using the nicotine patch in memory studies. If they occur at all, the most common side effects are nausea, dizziness, and headaches, which typically go away very quickly. An important part of the screening process is to review your medical history and current medications to determine whether this study is right for you.
+ Why Use Nicotine to Treat Memory Loss?
Nicotine stimulates systems in the brain related to attention and memory. Researchers believe nicotine can imitate these naturally occurring chemicals in the brain and be used to treat memory loss, among other medical conditions. In fact, researchers have used nicotine in memory studies for more than 30 years. The MIND Study is by far the largest and longest-running study of its kind testing whether the safe use of nicotine, delivered via a patch, can improve memory and functioning in people who have been diagnosed with mild memory loss, or MCI.
+ Can Nicotine Prevent Memory Loss?
We know from earlier studies that short-term use of the nicotine patch produced some improvement in those already experiencing mild memory loss. It’s important to note, however, that treatment with the nicotine patch has not yet been studied and is not recommended to prevent memory loss in healthy people.
About the Study
+ Do I Have to Be Diagnosed with MCI?
You do not have to be diagnosed with MCI to participate, but there must be memory concerns that are noticed by another person. Memory testing will be done at the screening visit to determine study eligibility.
+ Can I Participate in this Study If I Smoke?
All participants must be non-smokers and must not have used any products containing nicotine in the past year in order to allow researchers to compare results effectively.
+ Why Do I Need a Study Partner?
You’ll need to have a study partner who accompanies you to visits in order to give the research staff feedback about your memory. Whether your study partner is a friend or loved one, they know you well and spend a good amount of time with you, which means they are likely to notice changes in your memory that occur during the Study.
+ How Can I Volunteer?
If you are a healthy, non-smoking adult over the age of 55 - click here to find the site nearest you or call 1-866-MIND-150 (866-646-3150).