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Cigarette smoking exacerbates alcohol-induced brain damage

cell membranes of the cerebellar vermis.

"These brain regions are involved in fine and gross motor functions and balance and coordination," said Durazzo. "We also observed that higher smoking severity among smoking recovering alcoholics was associated with lower N-acetylaspartate levels in lenticular nuclei and thalamus, areas also involved in motor functions." N-acetylaspartate is an amino acid derivative and its concentration is used as a measure of neuronal viability. "Together, these findings may indicate a particular vulnerability of subcortical structures to the effects of cigarette smoking," he said.

Durazzo added that these findings have significant implications for both alcohol researchers as well as the general population.

"Our results give strong preliminary evidence that chronic cigarette smoking, a behavior that commonly is associated with alcohol dependence, has a significant impact on the integrity of tissue in several brain regions, particularly the frontal lobes and cerebellum," he said. "Previous research has largely ignored the possible effects that comorbid cigarette smoking may have on the brain. These risks exist above and beyond the increased risk for cancer, and cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and pulmonary disease. At this point, it is unclear if the brain injury and cognitive compromise associated with chronic smoking shows recovery during a sustained period of smoking cessation, or if continued smoking during abstinence from alcohol affects recovery from alcohol-induced impairment. These are important topics that need to be investigated in the future."

Durazzo added that chronic cigarette smoking is also commonly seen in other neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. "Any neuroimaging and/or neurocognitive investigation of these conditions should consider the potential impact of smoking on outcome measures," he said. "Given the growing evidenc
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14-Dec-2004


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