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Cotinine

co·​tin·​ine

Cotinine is a metabolite of nicotine, the addictive substance found in tobacco and smoking-cessation products. It is used as a biomarker to indicate whether you have been exposed to nicotine recently. The more nicotine you have been exposed to, either through consuming products containing nicotine or being exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke, the more cotinine you will have in your body.

Elevated levels of cotinine in your blood may indicate active use of tobacco products, while lower levels may indicate previous use or exposure to secondhand smoke. Your healthcare professional can use the results to test for nicotine poisoning or to prescribe the correct dose of nicotine patches to help you stop smoking. It is also used by insurance companies as part of a health examination before approving a policy.

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Last updated:
August 17, 2021

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