A research team from King’s College London has conducted a study which suggests that smoking could trigger schizophrenia because of the nicotine contained by the cigarettes which alters the brain.
In the study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry the researchers examined other 67 studies which included 15.000 smokers and 273.000 people who did not smoke. The findings indicate that 57 percent of the smokers also had a history of mental illnesses. It seems that psychotic patients have the tendency to consume tobacco unlike the participants who did not experience any mental illness.
In addition the research also suggested that people who smoke daily are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia compared to non-smokers and they develop the condition a year earlier than people who do not smoke.
Dr. James MacCabe of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (King’s College London) said that there results indicate that smoking is not a form of self-medication, but a factor which triggers schizophrenia.
It is true that most smokers do not have schizophrenia, but scientists say that smoking could increase the risk. What nicotine does is alter the levels of dopamine, the brain chemical which is involved in psychosis.
Dr. MacCabe remarked:
“It’s very difficult to establish causation with this style of study, what we’re hoping that this does is really open our eyes to the possibility that tobacco could be a causative agent in psychosis, and we hope this will then lead to other research and clinical trials that would help to provide firmer evidence.”
The director of the Institute of Psychological Medicine (Cardiff University), Professor Michael Owen, said that the study really pointed out that smoking could increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. He said that it might be difficult to prove causation since this is a randomized trial, but there are already enough reasons why people should take measures regarding this problem.
McCabe intends to conduct further research in order to establish the link between the amount of tobacco consumed and the mental disorders which the smokers could develop. This study was also connected with past research which suggests that there is also a link between psychosis and cannabis consumption, particularly in the case of patients who have depression.
Image Source: alumnixxvii.files.wordpress.com