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The occasional smoke is an indulgence, not a deviance

During this maturation period, the brain circuits are being remodeled, especially those involved in reward function dopamine and cognitive function acetylcholine. One big gap in research observing the effects of cigarette smoking on brain volume, connectivity, and function to date is that such studies have been mostly performed on adult smokers rather than adolescent smokers.

They found that just a couple of cigarette puffs can potentially alter the development of adolescent brain.

It’s in the puff of smoke … What about quitting ? - City Dentists News

The research team recruited over year-old adolescents and calculated a cigarette-smoking score for each participant based on how many times, during their lifetime, they had smoked cigarettes. Participants ranged from young people who had never smoked to those who have smoked more than 40 times. The researchers also looked at the brain of each of the participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI. Interestingly, Dr. Chaarani and their team found that smoking even a few times was significantly linked to a decreased volume of the gray matter and neuronal connectivity.

And the more teens smoked, the more the gray matter volume at the ventromedial prefrontal cortex vmPFC , and the connectivity at the corpus callosum of their brains was reduced.

Moreover, reduction in the connectivity could indicate that nicotine induces axonal damage, meaning it may be altering the communication between brain areas. While the research only showed a link between low doses of cigarette smoking and brain alterations, rather than a causal effect, these type of consequences have been consistently reported in many studies on brains of adult smokers. Researchers are still working to understand the impact of nicotine in the brain of young smokers, particularly now that e-cigarette use among youth has increased rapidly.

This new study could play a critical role in educational campaigns, and spur regulatory agencies, parents, and teachers to take an active role in preventing this newest addiction. Buy Now, Pay Later.

Smoking cannabis every day ‘shrinks brain but increases its connectivity’

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Sarah Lippett

Initially schooled at home, when Sarah went back to school she was placed with the struggling kids, and still so often ill, she felt even more alone. But although Sarah's parents often despaired of the stream of appointments and no cure, they never showed it and she grew up in the midst of a boisterous, loving family and found good friends at last, as well as venturing into bands, art, boys, books and records.

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Finally, when Sarah turned sixteen, she was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital where the doctors diagnosed her with the rare disease, Moyamoya. The book ends with Sarah waking up after brain surgery.

More than a Puff of Smoke - 15

Sarah Lippett is a London-based artist and author. Her first graphic novel, Stan and Nan, was awarded the Quentin Blake prize for best narrative at the Royal College of Art and was published by Jonathan Cape in , becoming an Observer book of the year. For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more.

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The right puff: in praise of social smoking

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