Over the years, we have all read many articles about the dangers of smoking cigarettes to our general health. The ingredients in the cigarettes have been linked to a variety of cancers, lung disease, heart disease and hormonal imbalances. These medical problems are estimated to be the cause of over 400,000 American deaths per year.
Now, we have additional information that suggests smoking cigarettes may also cause brain damage. The recent data suggests that smoking cigarettes actually lowers smoker's intelligence.
I came across a study in Scotland that was undertaken by Dr. Lawrence Whalley with combined support from University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Whalley retested 465 participants who completed a mental health survey in 1947, when they were eleven years old. The participants were re-evaluated between 2000 and 2002, when they were approximately 64 years old.
The data indicated that smokers performed worse on five tests that measured their thinking abilities when they were compared either to people who stopped smoking or to those who never smoked cigarettes. When other variables were controlled for, such as education levels, occupational levels and alcohol use smoking still appeared to have a negative effect, but on a lower level.
The author of the study suggested smoking might affect the oxidation process of the brain neurons. Oxidation is the process in which cells obtain energy from oxygen. The oxygen is needed by all cells for proper function. The brain requires a considerable amount of oxygen to keep the cells functioning and healthy. The research seems to suggest that the elements in cigarette tobacco clog the lungs and prevent enough oxygen from entering the system. If it is true that cigarettes cause less oxygen to reach the brain, it could cause the premature death of necessary brain cells, lowering the smoker's ability to think.
Clearly, if the data is accurate, it presents another reason to stop smoking cigarettes- it kills brain cells and makes the smoker less intelligent