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Nicotine Improves Brain Function In Schizophrenics

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the hallucinations-are-a-drag dept.

Medicine 297

An anonymous reader suggests a Cosmos Magazine note that nicotine has been shown to enhance attention and memory in schizophrenics. Research is now aimed at developing new treatments that could relieve symptoms and prevent smoking-related deaths. "A strong link between schizophrenia and smoking — with over three times as many schizophrenics smoking (70 to 90%) as the population at large — prompted scientists to investigate the link. Researchers led by Ruth Barr, a psychiatrist at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, set out to find if the nicotine in cigarettes was helping patients to overcome their difficulties with cognitive function, such as planning and memory in social and work settings."

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297 comments

Finally, a reason. (5, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985047)

I'll simply start telling folks I'm a schizophrenic to justify my pack a day habit.

Would you want to see what happens when I try to quit?

Re:Finally, a reason. (4, Insightful)

QCompson (675963) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985071)

Would you want to see what happens when I try to quit?

You'd live longer?

Re:Finally, a reason. (4, Funny)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985503)

Required reference:

Dennis Leary

"I Love these little facts. "Well you know. Smoking takes ten years off your life." Well it's the ten worst years, isn't it folks? It's the ones at the end! It's the wheelchair kidney dialysis fucking years. You can have those years! We don't want 'em, alright!? And I guarantee if I'm still alive, I'll be smoking then. I'll be in my wheelchair, with my adult diapers on and my twenty-five year old non- smoking born again christian son behind me. I'll be going, "Hey! Make sure you wipe this time. I was itching all week for Christ's sake! And get me some more wippets. I'm almost out, you fucking pussy! Come on!"

Re:Finally, a reason. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985725)

Yes, but you wouldn't because he'd probably kill you. Irratibility is one of the withdrawal symptoms of niccotine.

Re:Finally, a reason. (3, Interesting)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985095)

Now they need to do a study on those of us who run on caffeine...

Re:Finally, a reason. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985121)

That would be my second vice. I'll probably quit smoking, but I sincerely doubt I'll ever quit caffeine. Talk about cognitive issues when I can't get my coffee...

Re:Finally, a reason. (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985573)

I quit Caffeine.. while smoking.. then realized that i had subconsiously replaced it with more smoking.. so? i quit smoking and picked caffeine back up.. oddly not any more than i had before..

so while people will say mind over body... Quiting smoking is easier than quitting Caffeine.. (and i do not drink soda's.. hum coffee all the way)

Re:Finally, a reason. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985813)

Now they need to do a study on those of us who run on caffeine...

It's already been done. I mean, the studied caffeine. Caffeine is an antioxidant, eliminates free radicals and therefore has anticancer properties. Now you can have a smoke for you memory and a cup of coffee to cancel the carcinogenic properties of cigarettes. Smart isn't it?

Re:Finally, a reason. (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985699)

I saw news of a study a few weeks ago (here maybe?) That showed the same genes that are associated with schitzophrenia are also linked to creativity, and that the difference between a schitzophrenic and a creative person was intelligence.

I wonder if niccotine would enhance creativity in non-schitzophrenic creative types?

Re:Finally, a reason. (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985755)

That would account for the percentage of musicians that smoke. But then again a lot them are schitzophrenic as well as being creative.

Re:Finally, a reason. (2, Funny)

WildStreet (1362769) | more than 4 years ago | (#28986027)

They didn't need to do a study on this. The voices in my head could have told them about this years ago. only reason I'm still employed, I think, maybe.

Typical (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985069)

Nicotine itself is unlikely to make an effective treatment, because of its side effects and addictive potential, but drugs known as nicotinic agonists, which target nicotine receptors in the brain, are front runners in the challenge to find an effective replacement.

Haha. So rather than use a cheap natural solution it's better to get the expensive patented synthetic stuff. Riiiiiight... Now I see.

Re:Typical (5, Interesting)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985111)

We have genetic engineers- it's about time to crossbreed tobacco with coffee so coffee has caffeine and nicotine.

Dave

Re:Typical (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985443)

That sounds like a terrible idea, caffeine is pretty addictive, but it is mostly a mild stimulant. There is research that suggests that nicotine completely rewires the pleasure centers of the brain (to make them dependent on nicotine):

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=hooked-from-the-first-cigarette [scientificamerican.com]

Re:Typical (5, Funny)

Teresita (982888) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985511)

There is research that suggests that nicotine completely rewires the pleasure centers of the brain (to make them dependent on nicotine)

Then again, human ingenuity knows no bounds when it comes to pleasure and nicotine. Look what Clinton and Monica managed to do with that cigar.

Re:Typical (1)

black88 (559855) | more than 4 years ago | (#28986005)

I have been regaling my coworkers with exactly that idea: CAFFOTINE!!

Sounds like something they would use in the year 3000, no?

Cheap? (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985421)

1. I don't know where you live, but around here with all the taxes the cigarettes are probably the most expensive imaginable way to get your nicotine fix.

If you're smoking R1, as an extreme example, you're paying 4.4 euro for 1.7mg nicotine total. Or about 2.6 euro per milligram. For other brands of cigarettes, ok, you can get up to 10 times cheaper per mg, but it's still bloody expensive.

I'd think that the expensive patented stuff could gouge you like the medieval tax collectors -- or like HP for ink as a modern day equivalent -- and still be a lot cheaper.

2. You obviously skipped past half the sentence you answer to. The problem with just using the (not so) cheap natural stuff is:

A) it's extremely addictive stuff. And actually the real problem with that isn't the obvious "OMG, it's getting people addicted." It's that, like all physiological addictions:

- you're building resistance to it

- it's moving the baseline state to worse

So soon you'll either need more and more nicotine to actually fix that schizophrenia, or you'll need your regular fixes just to keep yourself at the point where you'd be if you never started with it in the first place. And you'll actually be worse off when you can't get your fix.

B) it creates a bunch of other problems. E.g., that it's a vasoconstrictor (which is actually the root of more smoking-related health problems than the smoke in the lungs), or that it inhibits osteoblasts (so if you treat someone post-menopause generously enough with it, they'll get fractures), etc.

C) nicotine is a poison. It's only safe to use because there's very little in a cigarette, and most of it burns. You're actually getting very little of it in your system. But there just isn't that much margin between that and when things start to get uglier. So especially in view of problem A, you don't want a treatment which will over time escalate dangerously close to the toxic dosage to do anything.

Re:Cheap? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985697)

- you're building resistance to it

- it's moving the baseline state to worse

So soon you'll either need more and more nicotine to actually fix that schizophrenia, or you'll need your regular fixes just to keep yourself at the point where you'd be if you never started with it in the first place.

I take it you're opposed to supplying opioids to people with debilitating chronic pain, then?

That's also quite a set of assumptions you're making. Unless you know what mechanism in a schizophrenic's brain responds to nicotine, there's simply no way to know whether sensitization to it occurs in that context. Yes, schizophrenics do get addicted, and in my experience tend to ramp up their cigarette intakes far, far higher than people in the general population ever do. But that might just mean they're addicted over and above whatever ameliorative effects nicotine provides; they may need increasing doses to keep nicotine craving away, but they may not to maintain a pharmacologically useful dose.

Don't conflate the mechanics of addiction with the mechanics of medicinal usefulness.

Re:Cheap? (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985717)

_If_ a non-addictive synthetic painkiller existed that worked just as well, then they wouldn't get the addictive opioids either.

Re:Cheap? (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985931)

You obviously haven't done any research on the drugs currently used to treat schizophrenia!

1. I don't know where you live, but around here with all the taxes the cigarettes are probably the most expensive imaginable way to get your nicotine fix.

Shouldn't socialized medicine cover that?

A) it's extremely addictive stuff. And actually the real problem with that isn't the obvious "OMG, it's getting people addicted." It's that, like all physiological addictions: - you're building resistance to it - it's moving the baseline state to worse

That is true of the current treatments as well. All have tolerance effects.

B) it creates a bunch of other problems. E.g., that it's a vasoconstrictor (which is actually the root of more smoking-related health problems than the smoke in the lungs), or that it inhibits osteoblasts (so if you treat someone post-menopause generously enough with it, they'll get fractures), etc.

Meanwhile, the anti-psychotics are extremely hard on the liver. With chronic use they often cause irreversible tardive dyskinesia or worse, akathisia (which makes sitting still literally unbearable). The other unpleasant side effects such as sedation, slowness of thought, anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), etc are what drive so many patients to discontinue their meds (dangerous without medical supervision BTW) in spite of the near certainty that they will relapse if they do.

The harmful effects of nicotine are benign in comparison even if you smoke it rather than using a patch or pill.

C) nicotine is a poison.

Literally ALL drugs are poisons. The only thing that makes a poison a drug is that it's effect may be medically useful and that it's dose can be controlled adequately in a medical setting such that the positive effects will outweigh the negative.

Take too much Tylenol (for example) and you will die the same way as if you ate poisonous mushrooms. Take too much of an anti-psychotic and you will die. Take too much nicotine and you will die.

Re:Cheap? (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985935)

As opposed to all the drugs they advertise on TV that cause anal leakage and severe risk of stroke?

We are all different and some people can handle a cigarette every now and then and some people have to have a pack a day. Just like not everyone that takes the TV drug will get anal leakage or suffer a stroke.

Re:Typical (1, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985529)

Nicotine itself is unlikely to make an effective treatment, because of its side effects and addictive potential, but drugs known as nicotinic agonists, which target nicotine receptors in the brain, are front runners in the challenge to find an effective replacement.

Haha. So rather than use a cheap natural solution it's better to get the expensive patented synthetic stuff. Riiiiiight... Now I see.

Of course! The pharma interests can't have people just willy-nilly feeling better without paying THEM!! Where would they be if people were just allowed to use naturally-occurring plants and herbs they could grow themselves for next to nothing to cure sickness and disease, and help them lead an enjoyable productive life?

There's a fellow in Canada that has done some amazing work and has gotten equally amazing results in curing cancer and many other illnesses using hemp oil extract. The pharma interests have completely ignored his work and the government is doing it's best to shut him down and keep it quiet.

It's no secret to smokers that smoking helps one to relax and improves concentration. I've been in the electronics field for over 30 years. All the very best technicians and engineers I've ever known were smokers.

Besides, this one is easy since it's already being demonized in the US and other Western countries. Can't have the proles doing anything they might enjoy. Sure, it shortens average lifespans, but if you're poor or lower-middle class, you're life expectancy is already going to be much shorter on average than the rich. Besides, why live so long if one can't enjoy themselves?

The anti-smoking zealots who always say that smoking costs the rest of us because government programs have to pay for smokers' healthcare won't consider NOT having government providing healthcare. To my thinking, government should not be involved in providing or paying for healthcare or healthcare insurance in the first place. It's yet another area where the government has perverted or totally ignored the Constitution.

If government didn't restrict the plans that health insurance companies could sell, where they could sell it, for what price, and to whom, then someone who is a non-smoker could buy a plan that would have the cost of others' smoking factored out because they'd be in a risk-pool with other non-smokers while smokers would pay for any extra risk and cost. Governments' only role should be establishing laws and regulations to provide a free and fair market for healthcare and healthcare insurance and prosecute fraud and abuse.

Now the progressives are proposing universal government-run single-payer healthcare and healthcare insurance, and planning on paying a large part of it with taxes on tobacco. But they're trying to get people to NOT smoke, so either it's a scam and they planned from the start to tax everyone, or they'll have to encourage smoking to pay for their healthcare and healthcare insurance plans.

Smokers won't be the only ones to be demonized though if universal healthcare comes to pass. It will be a politicians' wet dream come true as they'll have an open license to police lifestyles which will mean ever-more-intrusive government.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

It's the patriotic thing to do!

Strat

Re:Typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985873)

It's no secret to smokers that smoking helps one to relax and improves concentration.

While to non-smokers, it does the opposite, because of the smell. This especially applies to older smokers, who can smell really ugly, like sticking your nose in an ashtray. That makes me feel sick, which isn't really helping concentration.

Stick to smokeless tobacco (preferably snus, not American spitting (chewing) tobacco) instead. That won't make you stink, but you'll get your nicotine fix anyway.

Re:Typical (1)

mike260 (224212) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985925)

It's no secret to smokers that smoking helps one to relax and improves concentration.

Errrr, sort of. Smoking relieves the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, thus (temporarily) restoring your ability to relax and concentrate. It's a bug, not a feature.

Besides, why live so long if one can't enjoy themselves?

Presumably you've never watched a loved-one very slowly die of cancer, yes?

I'm all for your right to do whatever the hell you want with your body, but advocating smoking is fairly retarded.

The Voices Hate Cigarettes (5, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985085)

And all this time I thought that the voice in my head telling me not to smoke was common sense.

Re:The Voices Hate Cigarettes (0)

clam666 (1178429) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985763)

No no...the real goal here is a multi-phased approach. It's quite brilliant if you think about it.

First, you associate smoking with being a "cure" for something, such as forms of mental illness, anxiety, depression, etc. You have to do this because in olden times, these people were thrown in rivers or left in the woods for wolves to eat and we don't do that kinda thing anymore apparently.

You then increase the taxes on smoking to 150% of the price, so the people with the "problem" (and these problems are incurable ones anyway) bear the brunt of the medical cost for dealing with their conditions.

The "cure" for the problem (cure == not being a bane to the existence of the rest of society) ALSO is used as a cure for their cost (cost == not being as big an expense for the rest of society) by having them all die off earlier (send them to the wolves).

Of course, the only way to do this would be to have some sort of centralized, nationalized health care system, so that the decision to offer curative care for smoking, mental illness, can be denied since the patients aren't "contributing as much to society" as other taxpaying "normals".

Causation or Correlation? (1, Redundant)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985089)

I would have thought smoking would bring on mental problems in the first place rather than be a palliative. Smokers have reduced lung function, less oxygen in the blood, which I think would lead to a more poorly functioning brain (as well as other organs), leading to things like depression and other mental problems.

Re:Causation or Correlation? (5, Informative)

blincoln (592401) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985161)

I would have thought smoking would bring on mental problems in the first place rather than be a palliative.

Nicotine improves brain function even in non-schizophrenics, because it binds to acetylcholine receptors [howstuffworks.com]. Of course, the most common delivery methods have one or two negative side effects.

Re:Causation or Correlation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985369)

right. and also thats why your body demands for more cigarettes when you're drinking

your body knows when and what it needs.

Re:Causation or Correlation? (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985167)

Were smoking a cause of mental issues(in any significant number of cases) we almost certainly would have noticed. Smoking rates, and amounts smoked per person, have plummeted [gallup.com] since the 40's. We've been able to detect drops in other smoking related conditions; if psychiatric problems are smoking related, that should show up too.

Re:Causation or Correlation? (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985983)

Meanwhile, prescriptions for anti-depressants have skyrocketed....

Re:Causation or Correlation? (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985713)

This may not be true in this particular case, but I really love it when people go on and on about the dangers of smoking while they themselves live in smog filled cities.

Lung, kettle, black.

Re:Causation or Correlation? (2, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985779)

This may not be true in this particular case, but I really love it when people go on and on about the dangers of smoking while they themselves live in smog filled cities.

Unless you're living in Los Angeles, Mexico City or <insert city in China's industrial regions here> you're not getting anything like the amount of nastiness in primary cigarette smoke just by breathing the air.

Interesting (5, Interesting)

Dustie (1253268) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985097)

As I suffer from schizophrenia myself I know how bad your memory can get because of it. Maybe there is a connection between I stopped smoking and I (finally) got a diagnose on what was wrong with me. Perhaps it made the symptoms clearer?

I sure hope it is correct and doesn't get debunked.

Re:Interesting (2, Interesting)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985289)

I suppose a way to test it for yourself would be to get the patch or the gum and see if it helps you. At least that way, you're not getting most of the bad stuff too.

Re:Interesting (1)

mowall (865642) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985315)

I suppose a way to test it for yourself would be to get the patch or the gum and see if it helps you. At least that way, you're not getting most of the bad stuff too.

Whilst your point is valid, he'd be putting himself in danger of becoming addicted to nicotine again if he did so. Obviously he's managed to give up once, but nicotine is *very* addictive so it's probably not a good suggestion!

Re:Interesting (1, Interesting)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985343)

But is an addiction to nicotine really all that problematic if you're addicted to the patch or the gum? Does nicotine alone have long-term health effects and would those effects outweigh the possible benefits?

Re:Interesting (1)

mowall (865642) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985405)

But is an addiction to nicotine really all that problematic if you're addicted to the patch or the gum? Does nicotine alone have long-term health effects and would those effects outweigh the possible benefits?

I really don't know the answer to that but there surely are issues with being addicted to anything. For example; controlling the dosage levels (an addict may take more than recommended), ability to switch to a better alternative in the future, unwanted side-effects (which I'm pretty sure nicotine has). I accept your point though, if the benefits outweigh the current problems the recipient has, it's certainly worth considering.

Re:Interesting (1)

Veggiesama (1203068) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985921)

Long-term use of the nicotine patch isn't known to cause serious side effects. The most common short-term side effects from the nicotine patch include mild itching, tingling or burning on the skin at the patch site.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nicotine-patch/AN01257 [mayoclinic.com]

As a personal anecdote, my mom has been chewing Nicorette gum for at least 5 years. The only side effect I've noticed has been that she spends a ton of money on $40 boxes of chewing gum.

Re:Interesting (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985969)

Does nicotine alone have long-term health effects

AFAIK, nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it constricts the blood vessels in the body. This puts increased strain on your heart, and may prevent the extremities (arms and legs) from getting enough blood. If you shook hands with a smoker, you may have noticed that they often have cold hands, which is due to this low blood supply.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985307)

Abilify, Seroquel, or Risperdal?

Re:Interesting (3, Interesting)

Dustie (1253268) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985549)

Sadly Abilify makes me seriously ill even with half the dose of the smallest pill and Seroquel both made me tired like a walking zombie and also made me put on a lot of weight. As far as I know I have tried all of the "new anti psychotics". Only one that wasn't too bad was Zeldox. Unfortunately it does not look like science is going to understand schizophrenia (or the brain for that matter) anytime soon especially the "negative symptoms".

Negative symptoms - Wikipedia:

...loss or absence of normal traits or abilities, and include features such as flat or blunted affect and emotion, poverty of speech (alogia), inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia), lack of desire to form relationships (asociality), and lack of motivation (avolition).

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985799)

i'd say it's more likely that once you stopped smoking, your doctors stopped assuming that all of your problems are caused by cigarettes.

Sorry Rob but it's true (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985099)

Rob Malda's asshole is so blown out that it looks like an Arby's sandwich.

Old News (1, Interesting)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985101)

This is old news -- nicotine has long been known to improve cognitive function in schizophrenics. I remember hearing about this in an undergrad abnormal psych class about 5 years ago.

Not really news (1, Interesting)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985115)

This isn't exactly breaking news. It's long been known that nicotine has had positive cognitive and memory-enhancing benefits in most people. So the fact that it might help someone with schizophrenia to get somewhat "back to normal" doesn't really surprise me. Not sure if I'd recommend that they smoke, though. There are other ways of delivering nicotine to the brain without all the other crap that cigarettes have associated with them,...

It's not just schizophrenia... (5, Informative)

Fished (574624) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985127)

Nicotine can also be a potent self-medication for other mental health issues. For example, nicotine (as a stimulant) is often used by those with ADHD to self-medicate.

Re:It's not just schizophrenia... (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985797)

For example, nicotine (as a stimulant) is often used by those with ADHD to self-medicate.
Caffeine, too. My son isn't bad enough to need Ritalin or Adderal, but we'll frequently give him a Mountain Dew (8oz can) while he does his homework.

I lean more toward mocha at work, but walking a mile or two also does wonders for ADD symptoms the next day.

Re:It's not just schizophrenia... (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985881)

Try getting him to drink unsweetened coffee. Sugar can lessen the effects of the caffeine.

Light roasts have a higher caffeine content than dark roasts and would probably be more palatable for someone new to coffee.

Not even remotely new (5, Informative)

LabRat007 (765435) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985149)

Schizophrenics have been said to "self medicate" with nicotine for YEARS. When I started in the field in 1998 it was already a conclusion everyone was working under.

Schizophrenia Bulletin 1998 24(2):189-202;

A series of human and animal investigations has suggested that altered expression and function of the {alpha}7-nicotinic cholinergic receptor may be responsible for the auditory sensory gating deficit characterized in schizophrenia patients and their relatives as diminished suppression of an auditory-evoked response (P50) to repeated stimuli. This finding, in conjunction with evidence for familial transmission of this sensory gating deficit, suggests a pathogenic role of the gene for the {alpha}7-nicotinic receptor in schizophrenia. This article considers the possible effects of this dysfunction in a broader context. Not only is this dysfunction consistent with difficulties in sensory gating, but it might also pre dispose patients to problems with learning efficiency and accuracy. Such learning problems could underlie schizophrenia patients' delusional thinking, hallucinations, and social dysfunction. In addition, heavy smoking in many schizophrenia patients is consistent with the high concentration of nicotine necessary to activate the receptor and with the receptor's extremely rapid desensitization. Finally, the receptor's possible role in cell growth and differentiation should be considered in connection with developmental deficits and other cellular abnormalities in schizophrenia.

Re:Not even remotely new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985501)

My thoughts exactly. Open any book on schizophrenia and you'll find a section on nicotine.

I'm not a scientist so I might be missing something, but remember the article on psychopaths and their brain structure from couple of days ago? I saw a documentary on tv about the exact same thing about 2 years ago.
Also a couple of months ago there was an article here about schizophrenia and some forms of depression and how they were connected. That thing has also been known in the field for ages.

This message brought to you by the NHS (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985153)

FTFA:

The participants showed improvement in brain function, including less impulsive behaviour and better levels of attention, which are both unrelated to nicotine withdrawal, said Barr. ...
Ultimately, the aim of the research is to reduce the number of schizophrenics who smoke cigarettes.

On average, life expectancy in people with the condition is reduced by 10 years in large part due to cardiovascular disease and smoking-related cancer (see Why nicotine is bad for you, Cosmos Online).

Nicotine itself is unlikely to make an effective treatment, because of its side effects and addictive potential, but drugs known as nicotinic agonists, which target nicotine receptors in the brain, are front runners in the challenge to find an effective replacement.

Mohammed Shoaib, a psychopharmacologist from the University of Newcastle, in the north of England, commented that nicotine-based therapies would offer a significant advancement over current treatments, which do little for the cognitive problems seen with the disease.

Nice to see the anti-smoking lobby contradicting the Paki doctor right there in the middle of the article. When the researching doctor says "hey, we may have found a great new treatment based on X", maybe the government shouldn't use its mouthpieces (cosmos magazine in this case) to tell him to fuck off right in the same article.

Re:This message brought to you by the NHS (2, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985177)

Except the doctor never endorsed smoking. He even says in the article:

"Now, the rationale is to provide a more strategic treatment in the form of a skin patch or nasal spray to avoid the toxins in cigarette smoke. This is the way to go," he said.

I know this is BadAnalogyGuy but that was just sloppy trolling at best.

Re:This message brought to you by the NHS (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985235)

Maybe you missed the highlighted portions again. I quoted a lot of text, so maybe you didn't see the bolded and italicized text.

This is clearly not the doctor's words:
Nicotine itself is unlikely to make an effective treatment, because of its side effects and addictive potential

This is what the doctor said:
Mohammed Shoaib, a psychopharmacologist from the University of Newcastle, in the north of England, commented that nicotine-based therapies would offer a significant advancement over current treatments

The doctor said that nicotine treatment "would offer significant advancement over current treatments". The government mouthpiece at Cosmos contradicts this by saying "nicotine itself is unlikely to make an effective treatment".

That's where all this universal healthcare talk becomes scary. No pro-nicotine article can pass without the preemptive mentioning that nicotine and smoking are bad for you. Goodbye freedom of the press.

Re:This message brought to you by the NHS (0, Flamebait)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985265)

No pro-nicotine article can pass without the preemptive mentioning that nicotine and smoking are bad for you.

Funny because even the doctor agrees that they shouldn't be smoking in order to treat themselves in the direct quote of his own words that I posted above. Seriously, your trolling is sloppy.

Re:This message brought to you by the NHS (1)

jtev (133871) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985753)

The doctor is advocating nicotine therapy with other delivery mechanisms. I.E. extracting the nicotine from tobacco and delivering it in a controlled manner, such as a patch or some other means, as is currently used for weaning people off cigarettes. The article says that "Oh, evil nicotine, we can't let that be the treatment." The author is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Re:This message brought to you by the NHS (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 4 years ago | (#28986041)

The doctor said that nicotine treatment "would offer significant advancement over current treatments".

There is a difference between nicotine treatment (your words) and nicotine-based treatment (the doctor's words). The latter can imply that you are not treated with nicotine itself, but with some derivative of nicotine, e.g. with certain properties removed or minimized.

Re:This message brought to you by the NHS (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985283)

"And addictive potential."

I find this part curious. Yes, nicotine is crazy addictive, well up there with the zestiest of the drugs that the state doesn't approve of. However, in this case, does it matter?

Schizophrenia is, pending significant advances not yet made, incurable. People unlucky enough to develop it will be affected for their entire lives. If a given drug is useful, they aren't going to stop taking it, so being addicted seems like an irrelevant inconvenience. Obviously, cigarettes are a lousy delivery medium because of their numerous other unpleasant effects; but the addictiveness seems unimportant.

Re:This message brought to you by the NHS (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985345)

Why curious? The entire anti-nicotine/anti-smoking section has almost nothing to do with the research in the article. It's a message deliberately inserted to discourage tobacco/nicotine use.

So (1, Flamebait)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985157)

Was this study paid for by the tobacco industry?

From TFA: We would ask patients to go without cigarettes for 12 hours.

IDIOTS. Anyone who has ever quit smoking will tell you the HELL they go through in the first few days. So they take smokers, ask them to stop smoking, MARVEL at the fact that the patient who is struggling to maintain a grasp on reality anyway - loses it, and then claim that nicotine improves brain function?

How about a different conclusion: NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL IMPAIRS BRAIN FUNCTION IN SCHIZOPHRENICS. What a shocker. Well I dunno about "Cosmos Online" being a peer reviewed journal (as if even THAT matters nowadays), but this is a classic example of bad science, or incredibly bad reporting.

A good study would be to get non smoking schizophrenics to start smoking, and see if they improve, but the ethics committee would never approve it...

Re:So (2, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985207)

Considering that the researcher says that they shouldn't be smoking due to the toxins and instead should be using a nicotine patch or nasal spray in order to stimulate the receptors, I'm going to have to say no.

"Now, the rationale is to provide a more strategic treatment in the form of a skin patch or nasal spray to avoid the toxins in cigarette smoke. This is the way to go," he said.

Re:So (1)

gnupun (752725) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985221)

Yay for irresponsible reporting and encouraging schizos to clog their lungs with tar and soot. How the F does smoking improve any function, it's a dampener.

Re:So (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985227)

"Now, the rationale is to provide a more strategic treatment in the form of a skin patch or nasal spray to avoid the toxins in cigarette smoke. This is the way to go," he said.

Yeah, that's totally encouraging them to smoke!

Re:So (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985237)

Not only are you 100% correct (too bad you're modded troll for the truth, we have tobacco industry shills now? or is there just a paid slashdot modshilling enterprise?) but your body has also been shown to produce free radicals in the process of breaking down Nicotine. Not only are the additives that they spray on tobacco carcinogenic, but so is the very process of removing Nicotine from your system. You'd have to be a big fucking idiot to think that regular consumption of Nicotine was the answer to any non-life-threatening problem.

The only thing 100% proven to extend brain function is brain function. Use it, or lose it.

Re:So (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985583)

The only thing 100% proven to extend brain function is brain function. Use it, or lose it.

You. Insensitive. Clod.

We are discussing Schizophrenics. You know, that disease that reduces your life expectancy by 20% and has a higher than average suicide rate? This isn't some kind of 'smoking makes you thinner' article. This is alluding to smoking allowing sick people to live a life that is CLOSER TO NORMAL. You allude to 'non-life-threatening' without even looking up the prognosis. Besides that, what about the quality of life? Does that even factor in?

I realize it is fashionable to hate smoking in any form you may find it, but for the love of all that's logical, try and weigh the severity of what we're discussing before you post. Lack of having done so meant you just alluded, in public, that Schizophrenics are sick because they don't think enough.

Re:So (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28986001)

Not only are you 100% correct (too bad you're modded troll for the truth, we have tobacco industry shills now? or is there just a paid slashdot modshilling enterprise?

He is a Flamer and an anti-tobacco nut. You and the Troll you allude to should look up some neuro-science text books instead of polishing the brass on the anti-tobacco bandwagon (if nicotine was not in tobacco then I can guarantee you that there wouldn't be so much bullshit commentary on the subject).

Also Helps With... (4, Informative)

ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985209)

Ulcerative colitis [wikipedia.org] (warning, gross picture of internals). I've been a sufferer since I was in my early teens, and was in a state of active flare ups for nearly five years, even going to the hospital now and then. I've been on dozens of medications for it, from immunosuppressants to steroids to everything doctors could come up with.

When I was 19, a doctor mentioned smoking, off the record. He didn't want to actively advise me to smoke, but I was 19 and in danger of needing my colon surgically removed already. I, like a good geek, read everything about it I could find. I hated my first pack of cigs, but by the time I was through it--nearly a week--my symptoms were subsiding. Since then, one flare up in six years that lasted for two weeks. Trade-offs, eh?

Re:Also Helps With... (2, Interesting)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985523)

Sir,

    I sympathize with your problem and I am glad that smoking helps you out. However, is it necessary for you to smoke to obtain nicotine or could you obtain it through a less harmful means than smoking such as a nicotine patch, for example?

    I wonder if there is a way you could medicate yourself with fewer risk of downsides such as lung cancer by getting nicotine in some other way.

Regards,

--PeterM

Re:Also Helps With... (5, Informative)

ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985781)

In reply to the question on smoking:

At 19, I was stupid and didn't think of anything aside from smoking as a solution. After a few years and not being able to run like I used to, I started looking for another option. The gum made my mouth feel rotten, and something about the delivery mechanism of the patch (the steady delivery, perhaps?) didn't give me the "kick" I was, frankly, addicted to.

Technology, though, is a hell of a thing. These days, I use a cigarette-sized atomizer. It delivers nicotine, water vapor, propelyne glycol, and optional flavoring on inhales. Nothing else--no burning, no other carcinogens. Charges by USB, one cartridge has 16mg nicotine and lasts 150 puffs, so it's trivial to determine dosage. I still call it "smoking" though it's not Sure, start up cost is high, but my health prefers as few carcinogens as possible. Also, it's less obnoxious to people around me. Anyone in the same boat should seriously look at them--handles the fixation as well as delivering nicotine.

Have to admit, now and then I do enjoy a good cigar, though.

Re:Also Helps With... (1)

zacronos (937891) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985553)

Just some idle curiosity here:

Is it some effect of smoking, or just of the nicotine? If the nicotine, is some other vector (gum, patch, etc) equally effective with less health risks? I assume there must be some reason a doctor would choose to specifically recommend smoking rather than some other form of nicotine. Or perhaps it is just cost -- do you get more nicotine per dollar from cigarettes? The summary above seems to focus on nicotine for schizophrenia, which is why I am curious as to whether it is the nicotine or the smoking that is the key for you.

Re:Also Helps With... (1)

ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985803)

See my reply to PeterM above. I ditched the tobacco source a while ago.

I have to say, every now and then, /. surprises me in a good way. People actually give a damn here.

Derrrr (5, Funny)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985255)

Nicotine sharpens the mind while simultaneously relaxing the muscles. That's why it's so addictive. Duh.

In fact, personally, I blame the lack of smoking by people for the general dumbing-down of everyone and everything including Slashdot. Oh? You doubt me? Ha! Just go read some of the threads on Slashdot from back in the 40s and 50s and compare it to the drivel of today. Notice, in particular, the civility of discourse and the lack of Linux/Apple/Microsoft fanbois. You'll see.

Re:Derrrr (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985823)

you'll also notice smoke rising from your computer. don't worry, it was a feature, not a bug.

Re:Derrrr (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28986019)

No thanks! I don't want to back to the days of Univac, Eniac, and AS400 fanbois! Punch cards rule! And Multics sucks!

I don't believe it. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985259)

I recently quit smoking, and I haven't had any issues.....and neither have I.

Re:I don't believe it. (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985805)

*sigh*. I thought confusion of schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder was pretty much done with.

Here, try this:

"I recently quit smoking, and the voices in my head say they're fine with it."

inject nicotine into bloodstream? (1)

Amitz Sekali (891064) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985407)

If nicotine is quite useful yet may cause higher incident of lung cancer, isn't it better to just inject nicotine into bloodstream? Or is there something I'm missing here?

Re:inject nicotine into bloodstream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985899)

Nicotine doesn't cause lung cancer. It's all the other burned stuff in cigarettes that causes cancer. You can inhale nicotine or apply patches or inject it or even eat it with no ill effects (besides the risk of an overdose).

Not Surprising (2, Informative)

Annwvyn (1611587) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985453)

Nicotine's affects on the mind and body have been known for quite some time, but that it can CLINICALLY help schizophrenics is a step forward for them (drugs tend to be testy with psych patients). Quite a few of our medicines come from plants, and nicotine in itself is not very harmful (I administer more dangerous drugs on the back of the ambulance). Just remember, it is the SMOKE AND ADDITIVES that cause the cancer and COPD... not the nicotine itself. Because it is tied to smoking nicotine has a bad stigma, but we have already refined it for medicinal purposes.

Smoking (0, Offtopic)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985499)

Also has vitamin C in it and is known to protect the little teddy bears from the bogey man at night.

Plus, it's such an attractive look.

Re:Smoking (1)

Heed00 (1473203) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985749)

Don't confuse smoking with nicotine -- the former is a delivery mechanism for the latter. One need not smoke to take nicotine -- they are not inextricably linked.

ATTENTION: Schizophrenics! (1)

SeNtM (965176) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985519)

The government is not controlling your mind by adding flouride to your water, its the cigarettes!

Sin tax? (1, Flamebait)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985621)

So now the government is heavily taxing a medication for a specific condition. Do you think they'll repeal these taxes, or just continue to tax wht is now medication? From what I know medications are tax-free. So now I have to get a prescription to smoke? Where do I get my cigarettes tax free?

as far as cheap delivery methods go (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#28985739)

i wonder why there's never been a tobacco tea?

i know tobacco is a stew of horrible glycosides, alkaloids, and other plant poisons (which of course, is all nicotine really is: its just the plant saying "stop eating me!"), and boiling tobacco in water might deliver far less nicotine and far more bitter tasting horrible for you glycoalkaloids

but still, there's got to be a cheap natural way to get nicotine without getting lung cancer and without forking over lots of money to pharmaceutical companies

lots of other nightshades have nicotine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanaceae [wikipedia.org]

but nightshade has uh... other "slightly" more hardcore chemicals, heh

what a poisonous aggressive plant family, damn these guys are deadly

tobacco even naturally concentrates polonium and lead... seriously, i think this plant is trying to kill us folks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_tobacco#Radioactive_carcinogens [wikipedia.org]

Radioactive carcinogens
In addition to chemical, nonradioactive carcinogens, tobacco and tobacco smoke contain small amounts of lead-210 (210Pb) and polonium-210 (210Po) both of which are radioactive carcinogens. The presence of polonium-210 in mainstream cigarette smoke has been experimentally measured at levels of 0.0263-0.036 pCi (0.97-1.33 mBq),[35] which is equivalent to about 0.1 pCi per milligram of smoke (4 mBq/mg); or about 0.81 pCi of lead 210 per gram of dry condensed smoke (30 Bq/kg).
Research by NCAR radiochemist Ed Martell determined that radioactive compounds in cigarette smoke are deposited in "hot spots" where bronchial tubes branch. Since tar from cigarette smoke is resistant to dissolving in lung fluid, the radioactive compounds have a great deal of time to undergo radioactive decay before being cleared by natural processes. Indoors, these radioactive compounds linger in secondhand smoke, and therefore greater exposure occurs when these radioactive compounds are inhaled during normal breathing, which is deeper and longer than when inhaling cigarettes. Damage to the protective epithelial tissue from smoking only increases the prolonged retention of insoluble polonium 210 compounds produced from burning tobacco. Martell estimated that a carcinogenic radiation dose of 80-100 rads is delivered the lung tissue of most smokers who die of lung cancer.[36]
The view that polonium 210 is responsible for many cases of cancer in tobacco smokers is disputed by at least one researcher.[37][38]

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985893)

Was this research conducted by Marlboro by chance?

Old news (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28985919)

I was told years ago that smoking helps relieve schizophrenic symptoms (and schizophrenic affect), reduces incidence of hallucinations, etc. I've definitely noticed my "normal" pack-a-day skyrocket to near constant chainsmoking when i haven't had insurance and been off my meds. Shrinks have been aware of this for some time.

Schizophrenics patients need to smoke now? (1)

BillFixer (1599383) | more than 4 years ago | (#28986043)

Does this means, patients suffer from Schizophrenics need to spoke, or intake doses of Nicotine? haha interesting!
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