Smoking got a lot more worse, this time its the brain

Smoking is a proven menace to health and now research has brought up another of its adverse effects on the brain which causes it to shrink. Along with that, it leads to cognitive decline.

At parking lots, in the movie theatre, in hospitals and likewise, there are places where smoking is prohibited and depicted as being dangerous to health. It is, indeed.

People are so many times made aware of its negative impacts such as cancer, decrease in life expectancy, premature death and so on. The list just keeps getting long. A study conducted on more than 28,000 participants staunchly puts forward the theory that smoking on a regular basis shrinks the brain and causes cognitive abilities to become poor.

The brain shrinks owing to the puffs from smoking

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Scientists have previously found out that people who smoke can end up with small size brains in comparison to people who don’t smoke, in terms of volume, yet, it could not be established that smoking leads the brain to shrink or people with small sized brains are more likely to smoke.

But now, as per a new report published on medRxiv, a site that puts out eprints on the topics regarding health sciences.

The scientists for their study compared people who did not smoke daily and people who smoked on a daily basis. They found out that the latter had brain volumes 0.4 cubic inches smaller. Further, the gray matter in the brain which contains a large number of neurons reduced by 0.3 inches.

Smoking on a regular basis was also thought of as a reason for reduction in the white matter of the brain which contains the long insulated wires which connect the neurons to each other.

People who smoked heavily had gray matter volumes that differed even more. It came to be termed as a “dose-response” relationship and was seen as a cause of decrease in brain volume, as per what the scientists stated in their report.

However, it could not be determined that smoking decreases the volume of white matter a lot.

Next, the study provided the finding that people who had stopped smoking for a long period of time had more gray matter in their brain when compared with people who had stopped recently.

It gives the idea that if a person quits smoking the decline brain volume can rise up to a certain extent. People for whom it had been an year since they quit it, the volume of gray matter rose to 0.005 cubic inch.

Cognitive decline due to smoking

Image Source: MIMS Malaysia

Smoking does not aggravate cognitive decline, it alone is a risk factor for the same. A review of 37 studies published in 2015 in March in PLoS stated that smokers were at a risk of 30 to 40 percent high risk of dementia. It keeps increasing every time they would smoke.

People above 75 years of age are in the habit of smoking, don’t give a good performance in cognitive assessments and are subjected to memory loss than the other participants who don’t smoke.

As per a paper published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the high risk of dementia decreases when a person lets go of the habit of smoking.

According to Michael Burke, an assistant professor of medicine and program director at the Nicotine Dependence Centre at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, smoke from tobacco consists of class A carcinogens which cause inflammation, and cosnstriction of vascular flow.

There is no healthy or unhealthy amount of smoking. The only way to reduce the adverse impacts of it is to completely let go of the habit itself.

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