Our favorite guilty pleasure seems to cause some serious damage, as a new research points out. Researchers believe that a range of substances that can be found in tobacco may be the very reason to trigger mental illnesses. However, smoking is not the main reason why some of us are more exposed than others to develop psychosis. Other factors such as environmental influences or genetic disposition are responsible with an eventual schizophrenia diagnosis.
A group of scientists from Kings College London reviewed 61 research studies incorporating figures on 15.000 cigarette smokers and compared those with information coming from 73.000 nonsmokers. The study was aimed at revealing an estimate prevalence value of smoking in people experiencing psychosis episodes.
It seems that the nicotine present in cigarette smoke can alter the brain functions and may also triple the chances to develop mental illnesses, especially in those who are regular smokers.
In cases of schizophrenia or mental distress, people tend to relate to smoking as a medication. It seems that the strategy is wrong and cigarette smoking can be the very cause and trigger of schizophrenia. Smoking offers us a moment with ourselves, perceived as a stress reliever but it actually does the opposite. It makes us become psychotic a year earlier, compared with non-smokers.
The causality directions are multiple and are always hard to determine. Scientists highlight the fact that smoking should be taken seriously as a high risk factor for developing psychosis, and not be seen as a simple consequence of the illness.
From the data analyzed, researchers revealed that 57% of patients who benefitted from treatment against psychosis were smokers as well. Researchers have theorized a possible link between excess dopamine and smoking. Dopamine is known to be a brain chemical that plays a consistent role in transmitting nerve signals.
The study still needs further investigation related to the association between the different types of smoking and schizophrenia. Is it daily smoking, sporadic smoking or nicotine addiction that makes us vulnerable in front of mental illnesses?
We are facing a loop here, as smoking is widely used as a medicine against stress. But is our daily dose of medicine a poison instead? Is it a poison that makes us even more vulnerable in front of weaknesses that make our mind go wild? Researchers need to come up with the best answer for that, before we light up a cigarette and gaze in wonder at the thick curtain of smoke coming from between our lips. Smoking is linked to schizophrenia and that is not what we aim at when we take a break from our daily routine and light out a cigarette.
Image Source: theguardian.com