Smoking May Cause Schizophrenia, Scientists Warn - Dream Health

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Saturday 25 July 2015

Smoking May Cause Schizophrenia, Scientists Warn


Smoking Connected to Development of Schizophrenia

According to latest research, smoking could be connected to the development of incurable mental illness like schizophrenia. Researchers from King’s College London has informed that smoking could triple the chances of becoming psychosis, stating that it was clear the possible link between smoking and psychosis, should be taken earnestly. The result, if verified would confirm that nicotine tends to damage the brain causing psychosis. The team observed that 57 percent of the people seeking mental health services with their first psychotic incident were smokers, more than the general average population.

Regular smokers were also twice as likely in developing schizophrenia as non-smokers and smokers suffering psychosis one year earlier. Results of the same were published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. Earlier, smoking was considered as a form of self-medication among several individuals with schizophrenia. If this belief was true, researchers would have observed that the smoking rates only increased after a person had developed psychosis.

However, this was not the case indicating that smoking could have played an active role in progress of psychosis. The research observed 61 studies, which included data from 14,555 smokers and 273,162 non-smokers.

Meta-Analysis on Research

Researchers at King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience – IoPPN, carried out meta-analysis on the research seeking for patterns from the results of prevailing studies and though it was clear that most of the smokers did not develop psychosis, they claimed that the link could be significant. They observed that several of the studies did not justify for the consumption of substances other than tobacco, like cannabis, which could have been the outcome of the results.

Experts working on the research consider that though the results did not prove causality, the links should not be overlooked. Clinical Senior lecturer in psychosis studies at King’s IoPPN, Dr James MacCabe, comments that while it is hard to determine the direction of causality, findings indicate that smoking should be taken seriously as a possible risk factor for developing psychosis.

The real cause why smoking could encourage the progress of psychosis tends to be unknown and would need further research. However, activity in the brain’s dopamine system could clarify the link wherein an excess of dopamine could be bought on by nicotine exposure that could cause the development of psychosis.

Long-Term Research for Precise Link between Smoking/Psychosis Needed

One theory could be the possible link between smoking and extra dopamine, which is a brain chemical, playing a role in the transmission of nerve signals. Professor Sir Robin Murray, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings’ College comments that `excess dopamine is the best biological explanation for psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia and it is possible that nicotine exposure, by increasing the release of dopamine causes psychosis to develop’.

Another member of King’s College team, Dr Sameer Jauhar also comments that `longer term studies are needed to investigate the relationship between regular smoking, sporadic smoking, nicotine dependence and the development of psychotic disorders. Based on the clear advantages of smoking termination programs, every effort should be maintained in implementing changes in smoking habits in the group of patients.

Clinical lecturer in psychiatry at University College London, Dr Michael Bloomfield also comments that `it has been known for some time that patients having schizophrenia are likely to be smokers rather than people who do not have schizophrenia, though a definitive explanation as to why this is the case, is lacking’ Long term research looking for a precise link between smoking and psychosis would be needed to find a definitive link.

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