New Study: Smoking and Second Hand Smoke Cause Brain Damage
June 25, 2009 4:35 PM
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
in the July issue of the
Journal of Neurochemistry
that looks to offer yet another damning medical argument
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."
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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