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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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Don't give a damn!
By pequin06 on 6/25/2009 10:33:06 PM , Rating: 4
Just living will give a person brain damage.
There's something toxic in everyting. It's all about moderation.
Anti-smokers need to pull the stick out of their a$$.
If they want to dictate how people live their lives, go play a Sims game.

RE: Don't give a damn!
By Hakuryu on 6/26/2009 12:06:32 AM , Rating: 4

First an article was published that said coffee drinking was good for your prostrate, then another was published condemning coffee for its adverse health effects.

I smoke, and even before the big 'anti-smoker' movement I knew it was not good for me. My mother died of lung cancer from smoking (and my grandfather), and I just might be on the same track to oblivion. The problem is I like it. There is nothing better than a smoke with a coffee (so I'm probably double-damning myself).

The point is everything can kill you. Don't ever touch a cigarrette and the chemicals in your insulation may kill you. Don't ever smoke, live in a treehouse and eat organic food and a snake might kill you. Anything and everything is harmful once you make it out of the womb... live and be smart and don't tempt fate like me (dont smoke).

RE: Don't give a damn!
By HotFoot on 6/26/2009 12:59:17 PM , Rating: 3
My favourite is the stress from fear and worry over all these things is the most likely to kill you of all.

RE: Don't give a damn!
By pequin06 on 6/26/2009 3:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
It's enough to drive someone to smoke :P

RE: Don't give a damn!
By Starcub on 6/26/2009 4:46:42 PM , Rating: 2
The point is everything can kill you.

Proof that smoking causes brain damage: thank you.

RE: Don't give a damn!
By proneax on 6/27/2009 2:07:07 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think anyone cares if you smoke or intends to dictate how you 'live your life'.

1.) We have the right to observe your stupidity by making fun of you.

2.) Never enroll in medicare or medicaid. If you choose to smoke, you should choose to pay for your related health expenses.

Other than that, feel free to light up like a chimney all you want, as long as you stay away from me an my tax dollars.

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

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