The highly-addictive drug found in cigarettes might actually help fight a type of lung disease.
That’s the hypothesis behind a new study including researchers from The Ohio State University and the Cleveland Clinic, which are building off a smaller clinical trial that showed nicotine helped patients with the condition known as sarcoidosis.
Contrary to other types of lung disease, the main symptom of sarcoidosis is not shortness of breath but rather extreme fatigue.
Doctors say steroids can help treat the condition, but they have dangerous side effects like diabetes and osteoporosis.
That’s why Dr. Elliott Crouser and other researchers are optimistic about nicotine, which researchers have long known is an anti-inflammatory.
“We’re hoping that people will actually get a secondary benefit,” Crouser says. “Not only will their lung disease get better, they’ll also feel more energized and be able to get up and go.”
Crouser says the exact cause of sarcoidosis is not known, although the condition appears to be caused by elements in the environment.
“There isn’t a lot of data on the disease but we are learning more about it. We know black women are at higher risk but we don’t know why,” Crouser said.
Crouser says the condition is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia or lung cancer. He says if untreated, sarcoidosis can result in severe lung damage or even death.