SMOKERS ARE BEING warned that not only can the habit damage physical health it also poses a far greater danger to mental health.
New research has revealed that smokers are three times more likely to develop psychosis – with scientists updating a previous view that the greater chance of smokers suffering mental illnesses was down to non-casual factors.
A member of the team from Kings College in London behind the new research, Dr James McCabe, said: “While it is always hard to determine the direction of causality, our findings indicate that smoking should be taken seriously as a possible risk factor for developing psychosis – and not dismissed simply as a consequence of the illness.”
The research data was gathered from 15,000 smokers and 273,000 non-smokers, discovering that over half – 57% – of people being treated for the first episode of psychosis were smokers.
Published in the Lancet Psychiatry medical journal, the report also showed that daily smokers became psychotic about a year earlier than non-smokers.
Pointing to a theoretical link between smoking and excess dopamine, a brain chemical that has a role in transmitting nerve signals, Professor Sir Robin Murray said: “Excess dopamine is the best biological explanation we have for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia.
“It is possible that nicotine exposure, by increasing the release of dopamine, causes psychosis to develop.”
Another member of the study team, Dr Sameer Jauhar, added that long-term studies were required to investigate the relationship between daily smoking, sporadic smoking, nicotine and the development of psychotic disorders.