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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 jimbojimbo on 6/26/2009 10:56:10 AM , Rating: 1
That list makes no sense. First off your first name makes it sound like it's a list of reasons never to smoke! Then most of the rest are actors. So what makes an actor so great that they're a great influence because they smoke?


RE: No true need for a study.
By choadenstein on 6/26/2009 11:28:58 AM , Rating: 4
Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Robert Oppenheimer, Edwin Hubble, Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, King Hussein of Jordan, John F Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George Orwell, Oscar Wilde, Jean-Paul Sartre, JR Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, CS Lewis, Keith Richards, Luciano Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra , Robbie Williams, John Lennon, Eddie Van Halen, Vincent Van Gogh, Jeanne Calment, Alfred Hitchcock, Pablo Picasso, Che Guevara, Aaron Spelling, David Bowie , Joseph Stalin, Sammy Davis Jr , George Harrison, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Page, Richard Pryor , Frank Zappa, Fidel Castro, Sigmund Freud, George Gershwin, Ulysses S. Grant, Saddam Hussein, Pope St. Pius X, Pope John XXIII

Non-Actors: ~43 (39*)
(*the 4 underlined people are not actors, but have been in a significant amount of movies and might be considered actors)

Bill Cosby, Danny De Vito, Audrey Hepburn, Samuel L Jackson, David Letterman, Leonard Nimoy, Jennifer Aniston, John Wayne, Joan Collins, James Dean, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Kate Winslet, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Marilyn Monroe, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck, Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Colin Farrell, Sean Penn

Actors: ~29 (* 33 - see above)

43 v. 29 = Most of the rest are NOT actors.
(* or 39 v. 33).


RE: No true need for a study.
By technoburg on 6/27/2009 12:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
Ronald Regan was left off this list on purpose or by accident? He was an actor and appeared in cigarette commercials too advocating the use of cigarettes!
However this was before he joined the Repugnican Party and started getting into politics.


RE: No true need for a study.
By mindless1 on 6/26/2009 5:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously the list includes actors because they are the most popular due to Americans spending so much time watching TV in the pre-popularized web era.

If the list were instead the top 100 scientists of the last century would as many people recognize the names beyond the first 10 or so? What if the list were the top 100 worldwide leaders?

Nobody is saying they're a great influence BECAUSE they smoke, rather it is evidence against the commmon misconceptions that people use to randomly judge each other instead of focusing on their own mistakes however simple they might be (like yours that this list somehow supposed that makes them a great influence or a need to divert the topic on this inappropriate tangent).


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