Volume 93, Issue 77

Wednesday, February 16, 2000


McGuinty takes on Tories

Craving for alcohol linked with cigarettes

Weston aids the homeless

Three year degrees face extinction at U of T

Province backs Toronto's bid for 2008 Summer Olympics

The early bird gets the vacation

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Craving for alcohol linked with cigarettes

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

A new study has suggested the combination craving of alcohol and cigarettes may be due to a biological link between the two substances.

The three-year study, conducted by Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found when rats trained to drink alcohol were given doses of nicotine – the equivalent of 10 to 15 cigarettes to a human being – their alcohol consumption increased significantly.

"We found that after repeated treatment, the alcohol consumption increased 30 per cent in the animals treated with nicotine, but not the control group," said Dzung Anh Le, the study's lead researcher.

Le explained the study's findings proved nicotine and alcohol are physiologically linked and pointed to a different treatment approach. "When we deal with the treatment of alcohol or tobacco addiction we can look at a possible co-abuse of the two drugs," he said.

"What [the study is] talking about here is not a big surprise," said Bob Gilliland, public education director for the Renascent Centres for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction. "We've known for a longtime [that] heavy smoking can sometimes come with heavy drinking."

However, the leap from conclusive evidence in lab rats to effects on humans could be too far to make the study credible, said Richard Garlick, director of communications for the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

"I have a lot of trouble with some of these rat experiments," he said, explaining some studies using lab rats may not adequately represent the human environment.

Peter Elson, executive director of the Ontario Public Health Association, agreed the study had some hurdles to clear before becoming applicable to humans, but explained biological proof that the link was groundbreaking. "It serves to really underlie the whole addictive nature of both substances," he said.

Still, Howard Collins, executive vice-president of the Brewers Association of Canada, said although there could have always been an association between smoking and drinking, he was not entirely convinced the link was biologically causal. "I really can't say one affects the other. I have friends who smoke but don't drink, I have friends who drink but don't smoke and I have friends who do both."

Garlick agreed and said more research was necessary. "Anecdotally, there seems to be a lot of evidence that supports [the study], but I think they're going to have to do more," he said.

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