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No Smoking Day 2018: 5 facts about smoking and brain health

Read about smoking and its impact on your brain.

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Published : March 14, 2018 10:47 AM IST

As per a 2015 study, India ranks 4th in the world in deaths caused due to smoking. The ill effects of smoking on the health cannot be overemphasized. It has a far-reaching effect on the body, right from head to toe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking is the number 1 avoidable cause of death globally. There are over 4,700 harmful chemical compounds that are highly toxic, present in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. Did you know a frequent middle-aged smoker is likely to die earlier as compared to someone of the same age group who has never smoked? Although the effects of smoking on lungs, heart and skin are widely known, not much information is present on how smoking affects the brain health. Dr Ashok Hande, Neurosurgeon, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi shares few must-know facts about the effects of smoking on the brain.

1. Nicotine that is present in cigarettes, gets wedged onto brain receptors; it activates areas of the brain which are involved in producing feelings of pleasure and reward. When one is addicted to nicotine, it is hard to get over those urges; when the brain does not receive the nicotine it is used to receiving, it results in nicotine withdrawal. One tends to feel irritable, restless and anxious. Here are few things that happen inside your body when you smoke.

2. Excessive smoking causes the brain to weaken and shrink. It also results in adult cognitive decline and persists for many years together, even if one stops smoking. This is the reason smokers are at a higher risk of developing dementia as well as Alzheimer s disease by at least 79%. Smokers often experience insomnia and sleep apnea, which could up the risk of dementia in later years.

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3. Smoking frequently also affects your Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Oxygen supply to the brain is reduced and carbon dioxide presence increases, affecting your haemoglobin. The capability to analyse problems and solve matters in the workplace is often affected due to chronic smoking habits.

4. The common notion that smoking allows one to focus is just a myth. Instead, it is exactly the opposite. Smoking reduces your ability to concentrate efficiently. Fatigue often kicks in due to the lack of oxygen supply to the brain.

5. Chronic smokers are at a high risk of a brain stroke. Nicotine presence in the blood makes the blood thicker. There is an increased risk of plaque deposition in the arteries, caused due to smoking. This thus compromises the blood supply to the brain which causes a brain stroke. The risk of dying from a stroke is double in smokers, as compared to non-smokers. However, if one stops smoking within five years, with sufficient nutritional intake, the risk can be reduced to the same of a lifetime non-smoker. If you have survived a stroke, you can be left with permanent damage after having a stroke. Also read Quit smoking: What happens a day, week, month and year after you do it.

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