Information about the Effects & Risks of Smoking:

Smoking and the Brain

Smoking and the BrainWhile the lungs seem to be at the centre of attention when it comes to the harm that smoking causes, do know that there are other organs that are also quite vulnerable to smoke infused damage. This includes your brain. Yes, various studies have shown that a smoking habit can harm the brain. This article focuses on the damage that the brain is susceptible to because of smoking.

Smoking can Reduce Cognitive Abilities and Memory:
The findings of a study carried out as a portion of a Scottish Mental Health Survey (published in the New Scientist magazine) showed that smoking could work in reducing a person’s cognitive abilities and memory. This study involved over 450 subjects, and was spread over of period of more than fifty years.

The subjects, at the end of this period, were tested for various factors such as learning, memory, non-verbal reasoning, decision making, etc. Existing smokers or people who had quit smoking were seen to be performing at lower levels even though aspects like occupation, education, childhood IQ, etc. were accounted for. Moreover, the detrimental effects were more pronounced in subjects who were existing smokers.

Smoking can Cause Neuroinflamation:
A study led by researchers from the Indian National Brain Research Centre (published in the Journal of Neurochemistry) showed that smoking can lead to neuroinflamation, which can further lead to complications like multiple sclerosis. The basis of this finding revolve around the presence of a compound referred to as NNK which is commonly found in all tobacco products.

This compound is a pro-carcinogen, that is, it becomes carcinogenic after it goes through the body’s metabolic processes. It actively works in provoking the WBCs to attack other healthy cells, and this can lead to significant neurological damage. Also, unlike drug or alcohol dependency, while NNK does not seem to have a direct effect on the brain cells, it can lead to neuroinflamation.

Other Effects:
Nicotine gets to the brain after about 10-15 seconds of the smoke being inhaled, and it at its active best for the next 20-30 minutes. Once it gets to the brain it works in changing and controlling the brain’s receptor cells. This leads to the brain chemistry being affected, and this in turn, would have a direct impact on the smoker’s mood. This is why specific signs such as anxiety, irritability, and mood swings can be noticed in the early days of quitting smoking.

Smoking is also known to block the carotid artery, which in turn results in the supply of blood to the brain cells being restricted. This condition, when it worsens, can lead to a stroke (cerebral thrombosis). Know that smokers are at an increased risk of suffering from a stroke when compared to non-smokers. Excessive smoking can lead to oxidative stress, and can also cause your blood to thicken and clot.

Remember, the benefits of quitting smoking aren’t just physical, but psychological as well. Besides, as opposed to having to depend on the tobacco stick to guide you through an assortment of circumstances, you’d consider much healthier options that’d aid in your overall well being.