Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cigarette smoking exacerbates alcohol-induced brain damage

Cigarette smoking exacerbates alcohol-induced brain damage

Heavy alcohol consumption is known to cause brain damage. A new imaging study has compared 24, one-week-abstinent alcoholics (14 smokers, 10 nonsmokers) in treatment with 26 light-drinking "controls" (7 smokers, 19 nonsmokers), and found that cigarette smoking can both exacerbate alcohol-induced damage as well as independently cause brain damage. The damage is most prominent in the frontal lobes (important in planning, decision-making, and multi-tasking among other functions). Independent of alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking also had adverse effects on brain regions involved in fine and gross motor functions and balance and coordination. Roughly 80% of alcohol-dependent individuals report smoking regularly.

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