Two UK suicides using nicotine extracted from tobacco
employing instructions available on the Internet
Forensic Sci Int. 2010 Mar 2. [Epub ahead of print]
Corkery JM, Button J, Vento AE, Schifano F.
Tobacco is one of the most easily accessible and commonly abused drugs world-wide. Nicotine, one of its principal constituents, can cause serious or fatal overdoses. Whilst the deliberate ingestion of this substance appears to be relatively rare, often the important signs of its consumption are not recognised, sometimes with fatal results.
Here we describe two cases of intentional fatal ingestion of nicotine. The nicotine was extracted from tobacco using instructions available on the Internet. The first case involved a male aged 19 who died in 2008. The post-mortem blood and urine levels of nicotine were 5.5mg/l and >80mg/l respectively; the blood level is in line with the generally recognised fatal level of >5mg/l. The levels of nicotine's main metabolite, cotinine, for this case were 2.5mg/l and 7.9mg/l for blood and urine respectively.
A comparative case in 1999 involved a 32 year-old male. The level of post-mortem nicotine in his blood was 1.0mg/l. These are believed to be the first UK suicides by nicotine using instructions from the Internet reported in the literature. Information that nicotine was the agent responsible only became apparent some time after death.
There may be more deaths due to this cause that go unrecognised because quantification of nicotine and cotinine levels is not often conducted, due to the wide prevalence of smoking. It is important that all evidence at the scene of a sudden and unexplained death is carefully evaluated, including potential clues on PCs and lap-tops.
Source Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20202767
The above paper hopefully aids in seeing through pharmaceutical industry marketing claims that nicotine is medicine and its use therapy. The amount of nicotine inhaled by the average smoker from a single cigarette is roughly 1mg or milligram, which is sufficiant to kill the largest rat you've ever seen (about 1 to 1.5 pounds) if administered all at once. Thank goodness we're far bigger than rats. It's generally accepted that it takes 40 to 60mg of nicotine to kill a 160 pound human. Yes, just 2 to 3 drops in the palm of our hand and we're dead.
What's it feel like to die from nicotine? According to the above study:
When nicotine overdose occurs, gastrointestinal symptoms appear within a few minutes: nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Systemic effects include: agitation, headache, sweating; auditory and visual disturbances, confusion, increased blood pressure, bradycardia, and tachycardia . If the poisoning is severe, dyspnoea, cyanosis and coma are apparent also. Death can occur within the space of a few minutes but usually within an hour of ingestion. Death is typically due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles, but may be caused by cardiovascular collapse.
Not a very pretty picture. Nicotine is not our friend and has no business inside the human body or brain. Just one rule to staying on this side of the bars and keeping my arrested dependency on the other ... no nicotine today, none!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long
John (Gold x10)