Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Individuals who drink heavily and smoke may show 'early aging' of the brain

Date:
May 18, 2013
Source:
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
Summary:
Alcohol treatment interventions work best when patients understand and are actively involved in the process. A first-of-its-kind study looks at the interactive effects of smoking status and age on neurocognition in one-month-abstinent alcohol dependent (AD) individuals in treatment. Results show that AD individuals who currently smoke have more problems with memory, ability to think quickly and efficiently, and problem-solving skills than those who do not smoke, effects which seem to become greater with increasing age.

Treatment for alcohol use disorders works best if the patient actively understands and incorporates the interventions provided in the clinic. Multiple factors can influence both the type and degree of neurocognitive abnormalities found during early abstinence, including chronic cigarette smoking and increasing age. A new study is the first to look at the interactive effects of smoking status and age on neurocognition in treatment-seeking alcohol dependent (AD) individuals. Findings show that AD individuals who currently smoke show more problems with memory, ability to think quickly and efficiently, and problem-solving skills than those who don't smoke, effects which seem to become exacerbated with age.

Results will be published in the October 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Several factors -- nutrition, exercise, comorbid medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, psychiatric conditions such as depressive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, and genetic predispositions -- may also influence cognitive functioning during early abstinence," explained Timothy C. Durazzo, assistant professor in the department of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California San Francisco, and corresponding author for the study. "We focused on the effects of chronic cigarette smoking and increasing age on cognition because previous research suggested that each has independent, adverse affects on multiple aspects of cognition and brain biology in people with and without alcohol use disorders. This previous research also indicated that the adverse effects of smoking on the brain accumulate over time. Therefore, we predicted that AD, active chronic smokers would show the greatest decline in cognitive abilities with increasing age."

"The independent and interactive effects of smoking and other drug use on cognitive functioning among individuals with AD are largely unknown," added Alecia Dager, associate research scientist in the department of psychiatry at Yale University. "This is problematic because many heavy drinkers also smoke. Furthermore, in treatment programs for alcoholism, the issue of smoking may be largely ignored. This study provides evidence of greater cognitive difficulties in alcoholics who also smoke, which could offer important insights for treatment programs. First, individuals with AD who also smoke may have more difficulty remembering, integrating, and implementing treatment strategies. Second, there are clear benefits for thinking skills as a result of quitting both substances."

Durazzo and his colleagues compared the neurocognitive functioning of four groups of participants, all between the ages of 26 and 71 years of age: never-smoking healthy individuals or "controls" (n=39); and one-month abstinent, treatment-seeking AD individuals, who were never-smokers (n = 30), former-smokers (n = 21) and active-smokers (n = 68). Evaluated cognitive abilities included cognitive efficiency, executive functions, fine motor skills, general intelligence, learning and memory, processing speed, visuospatial functions, and working memory.

"We found that, at one month of abstinence, actively smoking AD [individuals] had greater-than-normal age effects on measures of learning, memory, processing speed, reasoning and problem-solving, and fine motor skills," said Durazzo. "AD never-smokers and former-smokers showed equivalent changes on all measures with increasing age as the never-smoking controls. These results indicate the combination of alcohol dependence and active chronic smoking was related to an abnormal decline in multiple cognitive functions with increasing age."

"These results indicate the combined effects of these drugs are especially harmful and become even more apparent in older age," said Dager. "In general, people show cognitive decline in older age. However, it seems that years of combined alcohol and cigarette use exacerbate this process, contributing to an even greater decline in thinking skills in later years."

Durazzo agreed. "Chronic cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and increasing age are all associated with increased oxidative damage to brain tissue," he said. "Oxidative damage results from increased levels of free radicals and other compounds that directly injure neurons and other cells that make up the brain. Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption expose the brain to a tremendous amount of free radicals. We hypothesize that chronic, long-term exposure to cigarette smoke and excessive alcohol consumption interacts with the normal aging process to produce greater neurocognitive decline in the active-smoking AD group."

Cigarette smoking is a "modifiable health risk" that is directly associated with at least 440,000 deaths every year in the United States, Durazzo noted. "Chronic smoking, and to a lesser extent, alcohol use disorders are also associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease," he said. "So, the combination of these modifiable health risks may place an individual at even greater risk for development of Alzheimer's disease. Given the above, in conjunction with the findings from our cognitive and neuroimaging research, we completely support programs that routinely offer smoking cessation programs to all individuals seeking treatment for alcohol/substance abuse disorders."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Timothy C. Durazzo, David L. Pennington, Thomas P. Schmidt, Anderson Mon, Christoph Abé, Dieter J. Meyerhoff. Neurocognition in 1-Month-Abstinent Treatment-Seeking Alcohol-Dependent Individuals: Interactive Effects of Age and Chronic Cigarette Smoking. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/acer.12140

Cite This Page:

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Individuals who drink heavily and smoke may show 'early aging' of the brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130518153444.htm>.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. (2013, May 18). Individuals who drink heavily and smoke may show 'early aging' of the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130518153444.htm
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Individuals who drink heavily and smoke may show 'early aging' of the brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130518153444.htm (accessed July 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) — An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins