Apart from causing health issues such as cancer and respiratory diseases, smoking cigarettes may also cause damage to the brain. A recent report concludes that tobacco use might lead to cognitive decline.
In a study with 504 adults aged 73, Sherif Karama, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Canada, and his team examined the connection between smoking and the thickness of the brain cortex. The cortex is the outer layer of the brain and is crucial for functions like language and memory. Based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the scientists compared cortex thickness of the participants, which were grouped according to their smoking habits (current and former smokers as well as those that had never smoked at all).
The analysis revealed that the current smokers had a significantly thinner cortex than those who had never smoked. Therefore, smoking possibly contributes to accelerated cognitive aging and higher risk of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also found evidence that upon quitting smoking, cortex thickness may be slowly recovered, depending on how much a person had smoked.
- Cigarette smoking and thinning of the brain’s cortex,
S. Karama, S. Ducharme, J. Corley, F. Chouinard-Decorte, J. M. Starr, J. M. Wardlaw, M. E. Bastin, I. J. Deary,
Mol. Psychiatry 2015.
Also of Interest
- The Chemistry of Tobacco,
Sabine Streller and Klaus Roth,
ChemViews Mag. 2014.