SOURCE: Vision Media

Vision Media

May 18, 2010 04:03 ET

Life and Health: New Research Reveals Mental Effects of Smoking --

Just in Time for Mental Health Month, New Research is Showing the Effects of Smoking and Tobacco Use on Mental Health

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - May 18, 2010) -  Monthly reminders of current life and health issues reinforce our knowledge of smoking risks. But in a new article from titled, "Smoking and Mental Health," life and health editor Alice Abler highlights recent findings from around the world that show a connection between tobacco effects, smoking risks and mental health.

Months of research comparing IQ test score results of smokers and non-smokers in the Israeli Army showed that the smokers had slightly lower IQs.

Both in vitro and in vivo tests from the Indian National Brain Research Centre indicate that a substance in tobacco affects brain damage. A procarcinogen, NNK, commonly found in tobacco, "causes the brain's immune cells... to attack healthy cells," says Abler.

She continues, "Such damage can be caused by tobacco, whether smoked or chewed. Even second-hand smoke carries NNK, which can cause nerve or brain damage."

Sometimes those subjected to smoking risks don't have a choice in their exposure, which results in regrettable tobacco effects. A recent study from Finland determined that prenatal exposure to smoking decreased the size of the frontal lobe in preterm infants. The researchers said this is consistent with findings that exposure to prenatal smoking risks affects health in children, impacting "frontal lobe and cerebellar functions such as emotion, impulse control, and attention."

Studies presented at the 2009 Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, addressed children's current health issues. One presentation "show[ed] that the use of psychotropic medication was highest in the young adults whose mothers smoked while pregnant," reports Abler. 

A related study from the United States pointed to a connection between tobacco effects and behavioral problems in children. "Prenatal exposure to nicotine was positively associated with children's sleep problems... Good sleep may serve as a protective factor for other developmental outcomes."

We know that smoking is detrimental to our physical, current health. Issues involving undesirable tobacco effects go beyond the known smoking risks -- now we find that tobacco also affects our mental health. Month after month, current health issues in the news trumpet the dangers of smoking. Now, in Mental Health Month,'s life and health article, "Smoking and Mental Health," gives us even more reasons to avoid this dangerous habit.

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