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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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what a load of crap
By cgrecu77 on 6/26/2009 9:13:44 AM , Rating: 2
this so called research is.

40 years ago, the vast majority of americans were smokers. One would expect to see a much higher than usual percentage of brain damaged people in that demographic group, which doesn't exist.

Which is an obvious proof(or at least makes it extremely likely) that smoking DOESN'T trigger brain damage.

So this research is kind of similar to saying that "Getting out of your house could kill you due to falling bricks". Yes, it's possible and no, it almost never happens.

Why are we wasting research dollars on such meaningless topics is beyond me. We already know that smoking is very bad for your health. Find a cure for cancer instead, do something useful, don't waste your time and our money.

RE: what a load of crap
By technoburg on 6/27/2009 12:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
It is backed up by other research. You your self admit that it is dangerous to one's health. You want us to pay for a cure to something that could be prevented in the first place? How lame! Prevention is 99.9% of the cure. Don't do the behavior that leads to deleterious health and there will be no need to find cures for things like aids, lung cancer, liver cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, etc. These are all lifestyle choice diseases that people chose to get as a consequence of their behavior and one of main reasons why health care costs are skyrocketing - up over 9% this year alone!

RE: what a load of crap
By robinthakur on 6/29/2009 11:40:00 AM , Rating: 2
You're an imbecile of the lowest order. When you say AIDS I assume you mean HIV, and in what possible way would people who caught HIV through no fault of their own make a lifestyle choice? Your homophobia and bigotry shine through your post, moron. Likewise there are people who get lung cancer who have never smoked in their lives and others who are pre-disposed to congenital cancer. As you would tritely say, you are LAME!

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