Medical scientists have investigated the incidence of Parkinson's disease for long-term smokers and have discovered an inverse correlation between smoking and Parkinson's disease.

"The study, released today in the journal Neurology looked at the lifetime smoking history of more than 300,000 people, and confirmed the inverse relationship between smoking and Parkinson's disease, established in earlier scientific studies. But, researchers say they've found a critical new piece to the puzzle: It appears to be the length of time one has been a smoker - not the number of cigarettes smoked - that has the most effect on disease risk reduction," reports the Paging Dr. Gupta blog.

Experts are quick to let the public know they are not advocating smoking. However, they are curious to find out what chemicals in cigarettes lower the risk of Parkinson's disease.

Medical Benefits of Nicotine

The new study might open the public's eyes to the potential health benefits of tobacco use. Of course, smoking a pack of cigarettes daily is not wise, but some credible physicians do encourage the use of tobacco for its therapeutic benefits. According to the Access Excellence Website, the possible medical uses of tobacco are as follows:

"Nicotine in tobacco form accounts for millions of deaths each year from cancer, emphysema and heart disease. Yet, in certain neurologic and psychiatric conditions, nicotine can have useful therapeutic effects, reported scientists at the inaugural conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco."

"Nicotine has long been a useful tool for researchers interested in probing the nervous system. Although the health risks associated with its intake via tobacco products has tended to tarnish society's view of nicotine, it is important to recognize that nicotine may have therapeutic potential with a number of disease states," observed Ovid Pomerleau, Ph.D., Director of the Behavioral Medicine Program at the University of Michigan and President of the SRNT.

Tobacco Research

Nicotine is among the most researched drugs. In the first part of the century, the first research of neurotransmitters studied the effects of nicotine, and the first neurotransmitter receptor ever discovered was the nicotine receptor. Nicotine acts similarly to acetylcholine and has been demonstrated to modulate several neurotransmitters.

The study cites Alzheimer's disease, Tourette's Syndrome, and Parkinson's disease as potential candidates for tobacco treatment. Tobacco has been used for hundreds of years, and it is very well-researched. If science can establish that it has industrial and medical purposes, it may be harvested for uses other than smoking. It may even be possible to integrate nicotine into a beverage, in the same way caffeine is currently used.

Regardless of how tobacco is used in the future, it's important that society not dismiss the strong possibility of its therapeutic effects.