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A new study shows that smoking tobacco cigarettes, like consuming alcohol, can lead to severe brain damage, though the mechanism is different. The study also suggests that second hand smoke exposure can also lead to brain damage.  (Source: The New York Times)

Perhaps that Guiness World Book Record for most cigarettes smoked wasn't such a good idea, now that the brain damage smoking tobacco causes is known...  (Source: Guiness World Book of Records)
Move over alcohol, brain damage has a new buddy

New research is set to be published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry that looks to offer yet another damning medical argument against smoking and allowing second hand smoke in public locations.  The new report finds that Tobacco smoke contains a compound which can cause brain damage.

The new study examined NNK, a procarinogen.  NNK is a toxic derivative of nicotine produced when the chemical is cured in preparation for use in cigarettes.  NNK is not found in other smoked drugs, such as cannabis.

Before the study it was thought that the compound could be damaging to the body, but it was unclear how damaging it was.  In the study, performed by Debapriya Ghosh and Dr Anirban Basu from the Indian National Brain Research Center (NBRC), it was found that the compound caused white blood cells in the central nervous system to attack healthy cells causing severe neurological damage.

Unlike alcohol or other forms of drug abuse, the drug does not impact brain tissue directly via oxidation or receptor damage.  Rather, it triggers an inflammatory immunological response that is believed to lead to Multiple Sclerosis and other brain diseases.

Both with in vivo, in mice, and in vitro tests, the researchers discovered that the compound elevated proinflammatory signaling proteins, proinflammatory effector proteins and other stress related proteins, and increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines, which act as molecular messengers between cells.  These factors led to increased activity by microglia, the brain's white blood cells responsible for attacking intruders.

The microglia turned on healthy cells, due to the increased level of these compounds.  States Professor Ghosh, "Considering the extreme economical and disease burden of neuroinflammation related disorders, it is extremely important from a medical, social and economic point of view to discover if NNK in tobacco causes neuroinflammation.  Our findings prove that tobacco compound NNK can activate microglia significantly which subsequently harms the nerve cells.

While most studies have focused on health threats from smoked tobacco, NNK is also present in chewing tobacco, helping make a stronger case against its use.  NNK is present in 20-310 nanograms in cigarettes, but is also can be present in concentrations as high as 26 nanograms in smoke filmed rooms.  This report adds more evidence that second hand smoke may damage non-smokers' health.

Concludes Professor Ghosh, "This research sheds light on the processes that lead to nerve cell damage in those who smoke cigarettes or consume tobacco products on regular basis."

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By NuclearDelta on 6/25/2009 5:24:40 PM , Rating: 4
Might as well try for my first -1 comment. Humm. Ah, this may work:

"I suppose this revelation explains why some smoker advocates think it's reasonable that they have the right to smoke anywhere and its others that must get out of their way."

RE: Hmm.
By xti on 6/25/2009 5:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
I miss having a marlboro with a beer here in Austin at a bar :(

but people can still spill their drinks on me.

RE: Hmm.
By Spoogie on 6/25/2009 7:47:12 PM , Rating: 2
Is this some kind of analogy? Proof of brain damage.

Smoke in the air gets into the lungs of those in close proximity, while alcohol someone else is drinking does not make its way into your stomach.

RE: Hmm.
By tjr508 on 6/25/2009 9:07:08 PM , Rating: 4
Alcohol is a thousand times worse for those around the consumer. Violence and accidents top the list.

RE: Hmm.
By Lord 666 on 6/25/2009 11:25:48 PM , Rating: 5
Along with ugly fat girlfriends and unwanted kids.

RE: Hmm.
By callmeroy on 6/26/2009 8:29:02 AM , Rating: 3 make me laff.....

funny how the right amount of alcohol can turn a "5" looker into a perfect "10"

RE: Hmm.
By proneax on 6/27/2009 1:56:15 AM , Rating: 3
yes because everyone who has a drink with dinner suddenly becomes violent and aggressive, causing physical harm to those around him/her.

Whereas, everyone who has a smoke with dinner does suddenly create 2nd hand smoke which is dangerous to thouse around him/her.

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