Tobacco Smoking May Be an Independent Risk Factor for Schizophrenia
Cigarette smoking and schizophrenia - Volume 6 Issue 5 - Ciara Kelly, Robin An association between the PPARα -LV polymorphism and. However research has shown that the relationship between smoking and schizophrenia is complex - it appears that there are both positive and negative effects. These findings shed doubt on the theory that an association between smoking and psychosis exists because people with psychosis use.
Tobacco use can lead to disability, disease, and even death, but new research suggests that nicotine may have some benefits for patients living with schizophrenia.
New research suggests that nicotine may help to treat schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia is a severe and disabling mental condition that affects more than 21 million people globally and over 1 percent of the United States adult population every year.
A significant number of studies have shown the condition to be a brain disorder, with brain imaging techniques revealing that neurological impairment often accompanies schizophrenia. One of the neurological abnormalities that former research has linked to schizophrenia is a decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex PFC. This area hosts the brain's executive functionssuch as judgment, decision-making, and problem-solving.
The PFC also helps us to stay in control during stressful events, and deals with short-term and long-term memory. A new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, suggests that nicotine may be able to help schizophrenia patients. Examining the link between smoking, schizophrenia, and genetics Researchers from University of Colorado CU Boulder - led by Uwe Maskos, a researcher at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France - set out to understand the causes of "hypofrontality," a decreased neuronal activation of the PFC when the task requires it.
Hypofrontality is thought to cause many of the cognitive problems associated with schizophrenia, including difficulty making decisions, focusing, or remembering things.
Nearly 90 percent of people with schizophrenia smoke, most of them being heavy smokers, and 60 to 70 percent of people with bipolar disorder also smoke. People startle the first time they hear a loud noise such as a car alarm - but they're able to ignore it, or at least mute their reaction, when they hear it again and again.
Schizophrenics lack this "gating" capacity, which may explain some of the confusion and fear they feel in seemingly harmless situations. As it turns out, the deficit is associated with a faulty gene that also happens to be a nicotine receptor gene.
Nicotine also helps with other cognitive problems related to schizophrenia Thaker said, including difficulty tracking a moving object and remembering things. With these problems, however, a genetic link is less clear. Another report from Columbia University further supports the idea the smoking or, specifically, nicotine helps in concentration.
Schizophrenia and tobacco smoking - Wikipedia
Other research suggests that nicotine helps people who have schizophrenia in their auditory processing i. For more information on this see Transdermal nicotine treatment enhances automatic auditory processing. Research done by Dr. Sheri Leonard and co-workers at the University of Colorado has shown that schizophrenics process sensory information differently to 'normal' people.
Unlike a person who has schizophrenia, if a person that doesn't have schizophrenia is startled by an auditory or visual stimulus, they quickly become accustomed to it if it is repeated. Research has found that when people that suffer from schizophrenics are given nicotine, via a patch or gum, they can cope with auditory or visual stimuli in much the same way as 'normal' people.
This supports the theory that nicotine is acting in a therapeutic manner via receptors associated with the sensory habituation. In addition, schizophrenic patients have fewer nicotine receptors in their brains than normal people, and the expression of one of the nicotine receptor subunits is also reduced in these subjects.
These studies may have provided us with some important clues about the central workings of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia and tobacco smoking
First, the findings indicate that a nicotinic receptor may be at fault in at least one aspect of this behavioral syndrome - the inability of the schizophrenic to process certain kinds of sensory information. Second, the work also indicates that there may be a genetic link involving the inheritance of the alpha-7 nicotinic receptor gene from one generation to another.
All of this provides important clues as to why schizophrenics smoke, and may be a rationale for using nicotine nicotine patch or gum in non-smokers with these abnormal behavioural symptoms. Again, much more careful research is needed before we can make the jump to using nicotine in the clinic.
Schizophrenia and Smoking
There is another research report is one of several that provide evidence that nicotine may have a positive impact on people predisposed towards schizophrenia. In research came out on a long term study of 50, Swedish military recruits which suggested that early cigarette smoking may provide a shield against schizophrenia.
After a variety of other possible influences were accounted for, men who smoked cigarettes at the time of conscription ages were less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia during the following 27 years.
The more they smoked, the lower the chance of developing schizophrenia. Some studies have found that the cognitive benefits elicited by nicotine are relative to how much nicotine is taken in by the individual. One example of such a study was done in Spain and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in They found that "for mildly dependent smokers nicotine could have a beneficial effect on their symptoms.
But they also found that people with a high nicotine dependence were more likely to be readmitted to [a] hospital and have a poor outcome". It is therefore apparent that nicotine can have both positive and negative effects.
- Nicotine may help treat schizophrenia, study finds
- Tobacco Smoking May Be an Independent Risk Factor for Schizophrenia
- Does cigarette smoking contribute to schizophrenia?
The high use of nicotine in patients with schizophrenia has also been attributed to nicotine lessening the side effects of some antipsychotic medications. There has been some evidence that this is the case, but it seems that the major reason for nicotine use in those with schizophrenia is due to the benefits it can have relating to the disease specifically. One of the reasons that nicotine is thought to have the effect that it does is that it mimics the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
This gives one the feelings that they have after they have smoked a cigarette or had any other form of nicotine. As we suggested above, however, the studies are far from conclusive. A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry mentioned above noted "Smoking may have a beneficial effect on either schizophrenic symptoms or antipsychotic side-effects, but studies are hampered by the lack of control of confounding factors". In May,the Harvard Health Letter noted "researchers at Stanford and elsewhere have conducted experiments that show nicotine may stimulate angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels.