An analysis was made on data from 61 studies on 15,000 smokers and 273,000 non-smokers to figure out the part played by smoking in the causation of psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia. Researchers found out smokers face an increased risk of schizophrenia.
Previous studies defined Schizophrenia as a condition caused by an imbalance of the neurotransmitters in the brain, and this disrupts communication between neurons. It’s a psychiatric disorder that occurs in about 1 in 100 people, and the symptoms appears between the ages of 35 and 45 years.
Having psychosis is a very distressing thing – hearing voices, having delusions,” said Dr James MacCabe from King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, also the lead researcher.
The subjects were asked to fill out a questionnaire that included questions about their lifestyle, diet, smoking and alcohol consumption. Their genetic predisposition and family history were also taken into account by the scientists.
The argument goes, why wouldn’t people smoke to alleviate the distress? They might hope it would help with the symptoms and their impaired thinking processes and possibly counter the side-effects of antipsychotic drugs, James said.”
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The researchers found out that daily smokers had an increased risk of Schizophrenia. Record also have it that more than half – 57% – of people arriving at mental health services were smokers, and that they experienced psychosis one year earlier than non-smokers.
Researchers also express some biological reasons why schizophrenia could be linked to smoking i.e. nicotine exposure, by increasing the release of dopamine, causes psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia to develop.
While it is always hard to determine the direction of causality, our findings indicate that smoking should be taken seriously as a possible risk factor for developing psychosis, and not dismissed simply as a consequence of the illness,” said MacCabe.
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