Introduction to Nicotine Addiction

Tobacco was first introduced into European society by Hernandez de Toledo in the sixteenth century. Cigarette smoking is a major preventable cause of disease worldwide.Tobacco addiction, the second-leading cause of death in the world, is a culprit for approximately 5 million deaths each year or 1 in 10 adult deaths.

Nicotine meets the criteria of a highly addictive drug. Nicotine is a potent psychoactive drug that induces euphoria, serves as a reinforcer of its use, and leads to nicotine withdrawal syndrome when it is absent. As an addictive drug, nicotine has 2 very potent issues: it is a stimulant and it is also a depressant.Nicotine in cigarette smoke affects mood and performance and is the source of addiction to tobacco.

Clinical Presentation

Nicotine addiction is classified as nicotine use disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). The criteria for this diagnosis include any 3 of the following within a 1-year time span:

  • Tolerance to nicotine with decreased effect and increasing dose to obtain same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms after cessation
  • Smoking more than usual
  • Persistent desire to smoke despite efforts to decrease intake
  • Extensive time spent smoking or purchasing tobacco
  • Postponing work, social, or recreational events in order to smoke
  • Continuing to smoke despite health hazards


  • Nicotine withdrawal is classified as a nicotine-induced disorder according to the DSM-IV-TR. Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, nervousness, headaches, weight gain due to increased appetite, decreased heart rate, insomnia, irritability, and depression. These symptoms peak in the first few days but eventually disappear within a month.
  • Symptoms of nicotine toxicity, otherwise known as acute nicotine poisoning, include nausea, vomiting, salivation, pallor, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and cold sweat.
  • A previous history of depression, use of antidepressants in the past, and onset of depression during previous quit attempts should be obtained.

Physical Effects

Gallbladder and bile duct cancers

Cancer of the gallbladder is rare, constituting less than 1% of all cancer cases. It’s usually found coincidentally in patients with cholecystitis; 1 in 400 cholecystectomies reveals cancer.
This disease is most prevalent in women over age 60. It’s rapidly progressive and usually fatal; patients seldom live 1 year after diagnosis. The poor prognosis is because of late diagnosis; gallbladder cancer usually isn’t diagnosed until after cholecystectomy, when it’s typically in an advanced, metastatic stage.
Extrahepatic bile duct cancer is the cause of about 3% of all cancer deaths in the United States. It occurs in both men and women between ages 60 and 70 (incidence is slightly higher in men). The usual site is at the bifurcation in the common duct.
Cancer at the distal end of the common duct is commonly confused with pancreatic cancer. Characteristically, metastasis occurs in local lymph nodes and in the liver, lungs, and peritoneum.
Many consider gallbladder cancer a complication of gallstones. This inference rests on circumstantial evidence from postmortem examinations: 60% to 90% of all gallbladder cancer patients also have gallstones. Postmortem data from patients with gallstones show gallbladder cancer in only 0.5%.
Adenocarcinoma accounts for 85% to 95% of all cases of gallbladder cancer; squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 5% to 15%. Mixed-tissue types are rare.
Lymph node metastasis is present in 25% to 70% of patients at diagnosis. Direct extension to the liver is common (46% to 89% of patients); direct extension to the cystic and the common bile ducts as well as the stomach, colon, duodenum, and jejunum produces obstructions. Metastasis also occurs through the portal or hepatic veins to the peritoneum, ovaries, and lower lung lobes.
The cause of extrahepatic bile duct cancer isn’t known, but statistics reveal an unexplained increased incidence of this cancer in patients with ulcerative colitis. This association may be Continue reading “Gallbladder and bile duct cancers”