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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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RE: No true need for a study.
By Woodsy on 6/26/2009 1:26:03 AM , Rating: 2
I was stating an observation I have made. I am sure there are plenty of people who are able to live a normal life and be successful as a smoker and be an exception to the rule. Just like there are people that rise up from a catastrophe and come out smelling like a rose, there will always be exceptions of varying degrees when confronted with an issue. I know many smokers that have lived a full life and have done more than I could hope for with my life. What my observation was that it does in fact reduce the mental strengths of a person. I see this on a daily basis, having worked with many people who smoke, and the vast majority of my friends are smokers since they are in the music business or working in an office environment where there tends to be more smokers, and the music business has its drug culture. I also have many family members who smoke as well. After years of experience with people, I can definitely say that smoking does in fact hinder people mentally as well as physically. They tend to be stressed out more easily and lack patience, especially at times when they have a craving. This is common knowledge.
I see you want to label me with what group you think I belong to in order to paint me into groups that some of the posters may dislike, and therefore apply bias to me based on your label. Which you probably have succeeded at, instead of making your own observations like sentence two in your reply. You could be a politician for your ability to slander. Now I could paint you into certain groups based on your comments, but instead I will actually focus on the issue instead of target what group you may or may not belong to.
I highly doubt its a "weird belief" to understand that a smoker tends to be erratic when they have not had a butt in a long time, and therefore be unable to focus or cope with stress as easily as a non smoker. This is a well understood behavior with smokers. Now its been studied that there is in fact brain damage associated with smoking, I am sure its not a stretch to discern what kind of effects on behavior this potential brain damage could create. I would not be surprised if there is a study in later years that can identify what behavioral aspects occur in smokers. I am sure this kind of follow up study could occur once its common knowledge that the brain is in fact damaged by smoking. However this leads me to my title that really a study should not be needed, drugs cause people mental harm and this I am 100% sure of.

RE: No true need for a study.
By myhipsi on 6/26/2009 11:38:41 AM , Rating: 2
Your sweeping generalizations sound like they're coming from some "Just say No" government run anti-smoking campaign.

You really want to know why people smoke and do drugs despite the health risks? So they can deal with self rightous, presumptuous, know-it-alls like you, who judge a whole subsection of society based on your narrow view of the world.

Grow up and realize that people just want to be happy. If that means having a smoke or drink to break up the monotony, then so be it. Brain damage be damned.

drugs cause people mental harm and this I am 100% sure of.

I'll reiterate with a twist. People like you cause mental harm, and this I am 100% sure off.

PS. I smoke cigarettes and cannabis, and I drink on occasion. I also have a cheeseburger from time to time. According to you, I suppose I should be drooling all over the keyboard by now.

RE: No true need for a study.
By robinthakur on 6/29/2009 11:55:45 AM , Rating: 2
Whilst I was going to rate you down as you have a bit of a stuck up air about you, I concede some of your points are true. Since I quit smoking, my mind feels sharp again and I can apply myself to things now which I would have gotten distracted from before by wanting to smoke a cigarette. That and breathe properly. When I used to take a deep breath, I felt like the oxygen wasn't being absorbed instantly, which was probably true. Now there's a nearly no delay between breathing in and the Oxygen being absorbed, which is great and lets me swim for miles longer than I used to!

To be honest, if you consider all the drugs that are contained in cigarettes, the fact that any of them cause brain damage is hardly surprising. The fact that this is not widely reported is more surprising and it speaks volumes about how the billions of pounds of revenue the government gets from Tobacco products is causing them to drag their heals on legislation. I think the big drive for nicotine replacement products are a completely stupid idea also. Its not stopping the addiction, and nicotine is extremely poisonous! Anyone who's smoked while wearing a nicotine patch can attest to how sick too much nicotine makes you feel...

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