The Effects of Smoking on the Brain
The public have heard and read much about how smoking is bad for the health, especially on the lungs. You have seen side-by-side pictures of the lungs of a smoker and a non-smoker, and truly, the image can make someone ditch the bad habit in an instant since it is supported by a fact that you lose about eleven minutes of your life for every cigarette smoked.
However, do you have any knowledge of how smoking can affect your brain?
Indeed, the effects of smoking on brain are barely discussed so here are a simple rundown of how the nervous system’s function is affected by every puff.
Increased Chances of a Stroke
This happens in two ways. Firstly, smoking promotes the formation of plaques that clot the arteries. Nicotine also makes the blood become thicker. Both conditions hinder the proper circulation of oxygenated blood, on which the brain depends upon for proper function. When the arteries become completely blocked, then a stroke will occur.
Inflammation of the Brain
This is due to a compound found in cigarettes called nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone
Or NNK. Aside from being a carcinogen, NNK also promotes the increase in levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins, and effectors in the brain. NNK is also known to stimulate the production of microglial cells, which attacks and harms healthy nerve cells.
Smoking promotes the production of the hormone called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the pleasure center of the brain. Therefore, the more you smoke, the more pleasure you feel, and that is what drives occasional smokers to become chain-smokers. Eventually, the brain system will get used to functioning under this state and the user will become addicted. The reward and pleasure receptors in the brain will cease to function normally, thus pushing the smoker to crave for more in order to feel good.
According to studies, smokers have lower capacity to deal with analytical problems. The most probable cause is the reduced amount of oxygen in the brain, as described above due to the thickening of the blood and formation of plaques in the arteries.
Reduced Sex Drive
The low oxygen levels in the brain can also cause a person to feel tired and fatigued. This, in itself, already affects a person’s drive to participate in a sexual act. Further, since nicotine addiction has also affected the feel good receptors of the brain, it will be less likely for someone to feel satisfaction during sex.
Most smokers will say that they smoke to relieve themselves from stress. The truth is that calm feeling only lasts for thirty minutes, more or less. The backlash will be worse, which of course will drive a person to smoke again to get that calm feeling back, thus the cycle continues.
Increased Free Radicals
It is a common fact that smoking is one major cause of the increase in free radicals in the environment, along with UV rays and other forms of pollution. The body does not have enough antioxidant to repair the damaged cells so the free radicals will continue to accumulate, especially in the brain.
These are just some of the effects of smoking on brain. There are also studies that have shown smoking as the cause of brain shrinkage and reduced motor functions. All of these are more than enough reasons for someone to quit smoking now.