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Smoking May Be Linked To Psychosis

Smoking Psycho

Smoking May Be Linked To Psychosis

Scientists have discovered that the chemicals in tobacco might be responsible for the onset of psychosis, along with other genetic and environmental factors, which can also contribute to the disorder. Research has found that 57% of patients who were treated for a psychotic episode for the first time were smokers.  The research showed that psychotic patients were three times more inclined to smoke than the general population. Smoking tobacco daily is associated with developing psychosis at an earlier age.

Dr. James MacCabe, from King’s College in London 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 findings were reported in The Lancet Psychiatry medical journal, but they did state that causality isn’t easy to prove. One reason may be because smoking is linked to producing more dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical which, when released, helps the person to feel calmer. However excess dopamine can cause psychosis in some people. People may also smoke as a means of self medication. The pleasurable effects from nicotine are short lived though so the person needs to smoke more to obtain these effects.

Dr Michael Bloomfield, clinical lecturer in Psychiatry at University College London said: “It has been known for some time that patients who have schizophrenia are more likely to be cigarette smokers than people who do not have schizophrenia. “Yet, a definitive explanation why this is the case has been lacking.  This new study combines previously published scientific data into a statistical analysis which found that smoking cigarettes appears to modestly increase the risk of developing schizophrenia in later life.”

Professor Sir Robin Murray from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College, 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.” Studies have already confirmed that cannabis can create psychosis in genetically susceptible people. Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive of mental health charity SANE, said “It has long been know that people with psychotic illness such as schizophrenia are far more likely to smoke both cannabis and tobacco.”

One Response

  1. Waska says:

    As to the article ” Smoking may be linked to psychosis”: Couldn’t it be that people who smoke and at the same time are at least social drinkers ( smoking and drinking often go together) just had a more difficult family background when children and therefore developed Psychosis?
    I also think that smoking is a generation phenomenum. When you watch movies from the 1960s/70s everybody is smoking, and it was the same way in society. Smoking was then socially acceptable. Were all these people somehow linked to psychoses?
    Apparently an American scientific study has found out that nicotine is a protection against Alzheimer and Demence, of course when taken on its own, not smoked( the combustion seems to be the dangerous thing of smoking…)
    Well, every day something new in scientific research…Tell me where the truth lies…

    Have a nice day,


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