Cigarette smoking and a family history of alcoholism can both affect how a person perceives sweet-tasting foods, US researchers say.
"Women who smoked cigarettes were less sensitive to sweet taste than women who never smoked,” study co-author Julie A. Mennella, a senior researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, said in a prepared statement.
“This means that women who smoke required higher concentrations of a sweet solution in order to detect sweet taste; we also found that the more years a woman has smoked cigarettes, the less sensitive she will be to sweet taste," Mennella said.
The study included 27 current smokers (18 with a family history of alcoholism) and 22 women who'd never smoked (nine with a family history of alcoholism), ages 21 to 40. All of the participants were tested for their sensitivity to sweetness.
More food cravings
"The study suggests that cigarette smoking dulls sweet-taste detection and is associated with increased food cravings, especially for starchy carbohydrates and foods high in fat," co-author M. Yanina Pepino, a researcher at Monell, said in a prepared statement.
The study also found that women with a family history of alcoholism preferred higher levels of sweetness and craved sweet-tasting foods more often. That confirms previous findings that a pleasurable response to sweet taste is associated with a genetic risk for alcoholism.
"We may now use this knowledge to, one, identify individuals at high risk for alcoholism and, two, study biological mechanisms involved in the development of alcohol-use disorders," said Alexei B. Kampov-Polevoy, a research assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in a prepared statement. – (HealthDay News)
Source: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
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