SEP 03, 2022 8:00 AM PDT

Why Do Coffee & Cigarettes 'Feel' Better Together?

WRITTEN BY: Joshua Aeh

For some, there is nothing quite like a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. For others, that first cigarette of the day can be pretty satisfying. But for those who enjoy both, that first cigarette of the day just doesn't hit the same by itself as it does with a hot cup of coffee. But why is that? Researchers may have an answer.

In a recent study, researchers have identified two compounds in coffee that directly affect specific nicotine receptors of high sensitivity in the brain. These receptors, found in smokers, can become hypersensitive following a long night of nicotine withdrawal.

Those who drink coffee tend to like their caffeine first thing in the morning, but for those who smoke, there are other molecules found in coffee that may let scientists in on why they want their coffee along with that first cigarette first thing in the morning.

The researchers took a particular nicotine receptor found in humans and applied a solution of dark roast coffee to the cells. They concluded that an organic chemical compound might have restored the nicotine receptor dysfunction that promotes the craving for nicotine in smokers in coffee. The chemical compound known as n-MP is in brewed coffee and may help curb nicotine cravings in the morning.

Scientists were curious as to why smokers who are nicotine dependent are drawn to alcohol in the evening and coffee in the morning. The effect of alcohol on nicotine receptors has been well documented, but the effect of coffee is less known.

Though these findings have not been tested on humans, they do offer a better understanding of why nicotine receptors in the brain are affected by coffee and cigarettes. Researchers hope that this recent development paves the way for further study using animal models to understand what it is about nicotine withdrawal and coffee.

It's apparent why most people drink coffee every morning - caffeine. But the question about what it is about coffee and cigarettes still lingers, and scientists want to know if there is more to it than simply a mere habit. The caffeine in coffee is one thing for those who drink it, but for smokers, it may add another element that makes the classic combination of coffee and cigarettes all the more satisfying.

Sources: Science Daily, Science Direct, UFHealth

About the Author
BS in Exercise Science
Currently a Tissue Recovery Technician with a background in Exercise Science working on the side as a Writer with an interest in all things science.
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