View Full Version : Nitpitck about Nicotine
05-18-2007, 06:56 AM
In What's the fastest-acting, most lethal poison? ( http://www.straightdope.com/columns/070518.html ) you suggest that Nicotine is carcinogenic, which it is not.
See for example, that other fountain of fact, Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine ), "The currently available literature indicates that nicotine, on its own, does not promote the development of cancer in healthy tissue and has no mutagenic properties."
05-18-2007, 12:15 PM
Welcome to the SDMB, grout.
This topic came up the last time Cecil implied that nicotine was carcinogenic. See this thread ("http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=367340) from last year. There seems to be some controversy over whether nicotine itself is carcinogenic, but in any case it probably isn't among the most important carcinogens in cigarette smoke.
05-18-2007, 01:30 PM
Two more to nitpicks:
First, botulin is most frequently encountered by your readers as part of a medical procedure, either to end uncontrollable muscle spasms or to cosmetically immobilize face muscles. Poisoning seems to only happen on the order of 100 times per year in America.
Secondly, the poison in arrow frogs isn't produced by the frogs themselves, but by mites in their diet (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11855-mites-give-poison-frogs-their-toxic-might.html]http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11855-mites-give-poison-frogs-their-toxic-might.html) .
Lastly, and this isn't a nitpick at all, I think you've forgotten a very powerful poison that's quite difficult to detect. One could argue that the mis-folded proteins that cause spongiform encephalopathy are a particularly deadly and subtle class of poison, rather than a lifeform in their own right. Thinking of a prion as a contagious organism that reproduces using proteins of a similar peptide sequence may be a useful model in many ways, but form another point of view a prion is just another chemical, with a particularly insidious catalytic action.
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