, Volume 173, Issue 1, pp 57–63

Sucrose consumption enhances the analgesic effects of cigarette smoking in male and female smokers

Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-003-1699-0

Cite this article as:
Kanarek, R.B. & Carrington, C. Psychopharmacology (2004) 173: 57. doi:10.1007/s00213-003-1699-0



Nicotine has analgesic actions in experimental animals and humans. Moreover, the analgesic properties of nicotine in experimental animals are increased by intake of sweet-tasting nutritive fluids. It is important to determine if the effects of diet on nicotine-induced analgesia are limited to experimental animals, or if these effects can be translated from the laboratory to clinical research situations.


This study investigated whether intake of a sweet-tasting sucrose solution would enhance the pain relieving actions of nicotine, administered in the form of cigarette smoking, in male and female college-aged students. The effects of smoking and sucrose intake on mood were also examined.


Using the cold pressor test, pain thresholds and pain tolerance were determined in 24 male and 25 female smokers. Each participant was tested 4 times. On 2 of the test days, participants drank a sucrose-containing beverage, and on 2 of the days, drank water. Twenty-five minutes later, participants either smoked a cigarette or did not smoke. Participants were tested 5 min later for their responses on the cold pressor test. To determine if mood was altered by smoking or sucrose intake, the Profile of Mood Scale was administered immediately preceding and following experimental manipulations.


Cold threshold and cold tolerance were greater when participants were allowed to smoke than when they were not allowed to smoke. While men and women responded in a similar manner to the experimental manipulations, men displayed significantly greater cold threshold and cold tolerance than women. Sucrose consumption augmented the effects of smoking on cold threshold, but not on cold tolerance. Men reported feeling significantly more vigorous and less angry, and women reported feeling significantly less tense after they had smoked than when they had not smoked. Sucrose consumption did not alter self-reports of mood in either men or women.


These findings suggest that sucrose augments the analgesic properties of nicotine in humans, as well as in experimental animals, and suggest that diet could serve as an adjunct in the control of pain.


Nicotine Smoking Sucrose Cold pressor test Pain Analgesia 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA