Closing the Nicotine Gender Gap
Men and women may be equal on the battlefield these days but perhaps not in the battle to quit! Researchers have demonstrated that due to a lower prevalence of nicotine receptors, women have a steeper hill to climb when kicking the smoking habit.
According to the Livescience article, men who smoke show an increase in nicotine receptors overtime, an expected side effect of nicotine addiction. The article went on to say, “…surprisingly, women smokers had about the same number of nicotine receptors as nonsmokers.” Although the cause of the difference is inconclusive, the study suggests it “may have something to do with levels of the hormone progesterone.” The study found higher levels of progesterone were associated with a lower number of available nicotine receptors, the researchers added, “suggesting progesterone may indirectly block these receptors.”
Among conclusions to be drawn from the study, the article emphasizes the finding’s significance for smoking cessation. Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in N.Y agrees; “more attention should be paid to non-nicotine related smoking therapies. You can replace all the nicotine you want and people might still want to smoke.” It seems counterintuitive, but fewer nicotine receptors indicates that women must have a “nicotine fix” more often than men to maintain the same effects of the drug which equates to smoking more cigarettes, more often.
Pete Hegseth, former Executive Director of Vets For Freedom and a senior counterinsurgency instructor at the Counterinsurgency Training Center in Kabul, has remarked; “Whether we like it or not, gender differences matter in a combat situation.” Whether or not that is true, certainly if there are differences for women and men in winning the battle against smoking, these differences should be considered and evidence based programs should be tailored to close the gender gap!