According to a recent study, there could be a link between smoking and the development of psychotic behavior and schizophrenia. The study was conducted by a team of scientists from the King’s College London who found that people who smoke are more likely to develop mental problems, especially schizophrenia and psychosis.
The findings of the new study were published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. The researchers analyzed data from 61 different studies and found that nicotine released through smoking tobacco can alter the brain in some people.
James MacCabe, a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, and one of the lead authors of the study, explained that it’s not easy to identify causation between smoking and mental illness, especially in this kind of study. However, the purpose of the research was to see if it’s possible that tobacco could influence the brain and lead to psychotic behavior. MacCabe said this study will hopefully lead the way for other clinical trials that will provide more evidence in the link between smoking and mental illness.
This is not the first study that associates smoking with the development of psychosis and other mental illnesses, but previous research has suggested that patients suffering from schizophrenia are more inclined to smoke because the habit helps them deal with the symptoms that include visual and audio hallucinations.
The researchers who conducted the new study analyzed the data collected from more than 14,500 smokers and more than 273,000 non-smoking patients. According to what the research revealed, 57% of the people who suffered from psychosis were already smokers when they experienced their first psychotic episode. The study also suggests that those who smoked on a daily basis were two times more likely to develop schizophrenia, compared to those who didn’t smoke.
The researchers believe that if the smoking rate is higher before the patients are diagnosed with schizophrenia, it means that the patients are not smoking just to ease the symptoms. The study shows that the overall incidence of schizophrenia is 1 in every 100 people who are non smokers, and in twice as much in smokers. The scientists who analyzed all the data from smokers and non-smokers, said that nicotine released through smoking can alter the levels of dopamine in the brain, which has been previously been linked to the outset of psychotic behavior.
Image Source: instanthealthyliving