A LINK BETWEEN SMOKING AND SCHIZOPHRENIA?
A new study from King's College London shows that smoking cigarettes may increase the risk of developing a psychosis. The findings were published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.
Source : Le Journal de Montréal
This is not the first time that scientists have been interested in the link between smoking and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. People with psychosis are actually three more times likely to be smokers than the rest of the population.
To explain these figures, researchers generally explain that smoking may act, with these people, as an outlet to escape boredom or to pass through a period of distress. Cigarettes could counteract the negative effects of antipsychotic medications.
If this was the only reasons for the unusually high number of smokers among people with psychosis, smoking rates would be expected to increase after the first episode of psychosis. The study thus raises the possibility that smoking may itself increase the risk of suffering from psychosis.
A study of 15,000 smokers
Scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London have assembled the results of sixty studies conducted on nearly 15,000 smokers and 273,000 non-smokers. 57% of people suffering from a psychosis were smokers.
They found that people who had suffered a first episode of psychosis were three times more likely to smoke cigarettes than other participants. The researchers also found that smokers developed a psychosis about a year before nonsmokers.
Robin Murray, professor of psychiatry at King’s College, explains that exposure to nicotine could increase the release of dopamine, a phenomenon which may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.
However, "we can not say we hold the evidence that smoking cigarettes causes schizophrenia,” admits Mr. Murray. “It is actually very hard to point to a particular factor and say it causes schizophrenia. It's like heart disease, there are a multitude of risk factors."
While most smokers do not develop schizophrenia, researchers still have good reason to believe that smoking may increase the risk.
Illustration credit : blog.uyora.com/author/george/
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