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Smoking and Schizophrenia

Jan 21, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated the correlation between smoking and mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. A staggering 75 to 90 percent of schizophrenics smoke—that’s three times the rate of smoking as seen in the general population. And, according to Schizophrenia.com (a non-profit resource for information and support concerning the disease), they smoke two to three times as much as an average smoker.

Research now suggests that people with brain disorders smoke at a high rate partly because nicotine minimizes some of the cognitive dysfunction that is a common symptom. According to the Society for Neuroscience, nicotine appears to help normalize some of the cognitive and sensory deficits that people with this disorder experience.

Scientists have looked inside the brain to uncover regions involved in cognitive deficits of schizophrenia and to learn how and where nicotine works to combat them. In fact, researchers are now working to identify and develop nicotine-like drugs they hope will provide even more relief to the one percent of the population who suffer from schizophrenia, but without the addition and negative health impacts of cigarette smoking.

--Sarah Hagerty
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