How Smoking Affects The Brain

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How Smoking Affects The Brain
How Smoking Affects The Brain

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How smoking affects the brain

Scientists have conducted the largest study to date on the relationship between cigarette smoking and brain structure. Using the database of the British Biobank, they analyzed the results of MRI scans of the brain of more than 17,000 people.

How smoking affects the brain
How smoking affects the brain

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American scientists have found that cigarette smoking is associated with damage to both white and gray matter of the brain. The research is published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Scientists from the Military Medical University, Emory University and the University of Vermont have conducted the largest study to date on the relationship between cigarette smoking and brain structure. Using the database of the British Biobank, they analyzed the results of MRI scans of the brain of more than 17,000 people.

The researchers found that smoking is associated with a decrease in the total volume of gray and white matter, an increase in white matter lesions. In addition, they found specific changes in certain areas of gray matter and white matter.

The hyperintensity of the white matter of the brain is one of the signs of brain damage, which can be found using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These impairments are associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. Finding them in smokers helps explain the link between this addiction and an increased risk of dementia and other types of cognitive decline.

“It is known that cigarette smoking increases the risk of neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression and dementia. We found smoking to be associated with several aspects of brain structure, in particular an increase in white matter lesions. White matter lesions are associated with many of the same neuropsychiatric illnesses as smoking,”said study leader Joshua Gray.

“While further research is needed to understand the extent to which smoking is a cause or effect of these aspects of brain structure, our results suggest a mechanism that links smoking to an increased risk of dementia, depression and other brain diseases,” said Joshua Gray.

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