Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Smoking: It's even worse for you than we thought!
Most of you have probably heard something about the dangers of smoking, but for those reading who don't know about this topic I'll write out a brief summary of the side effects: it results in thousands of easily preventable deaths every year via lung disease and various cancers, as well as other nonlethal but still unpleasant side effects such as dulling your sense of taste and smell, impotence, and unpleasant breath. Secondhand smoke is also known to have negative impacts on those around the smoker, threatening them as well. This knowledge first started coming into fruition roughly eighty years ago, and while smoker numbers are dwindling there are still enough of them for there to be almost half a million smoking related deaths annually. Despite these facts, many in America choose to continue smoking, and they have every right to do so as long as they don't endanger others and are aware of the risks that smoking poses. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that brain damage can now be added to the list of side effects associated with smoking.
In a recent study from McGill University a group of 504 senior citizens, broken up into 3 groups of smokers, non-smokers, and ex-smokers received MRIs. The results showed that the cortex, a vital part of the brain that is responsible for most conscious thought, was significantly thinner in those who did smoke than in those who did not. This means that smokers are at a much greater risk than nonsmokers to experience early dementia, some forms of Alzheimer's, and various other forms of cognitive deterioration. The good news from the study is that former smokers have thicker cortices than smokers, indicating that quitting smoking can still lead to at least partial and potentially full recovery in terms of cortex thickness. This means that while smoking can cause lasting damage, immediate cessation can result in moderate to full recovery of lost brain matter.
I imagine that if somebody out there still despite the mountain of data facing them, then another argument likely won't be enough to change their minds. However it is important to know the full extents of what smoking does to the human body in order to allow both smokers and nonsmokers to make an educated decision about their bodies. This McGill study provides further evidence against smoking cigarettes and while it probably will not convince many smokers to drop their habit, if it manages to change even one mind about smoking then this blogger considers it to be worth it.
Written by: Mark Glasman