October 24, 2005


Smoking can lessen IQ, thinking ability: study (Charnicia E. Huggins Mon Oct 24,2005, Reuters)

The poorer mental function seen among alcoholics, many of whom also regularly smoke cigarettes, may be partially due to the long-term effects of nicotine, new research suggests.

"People who are also smokers are at a much higher risk," Dr. Jennifer M. Glass, of the University of Michigan's Addiction Research Center, told Reuters Health.

In her study, "cigarette smoking was negatively related to IQ and thinking," she said.

It's not like the folks who still smoke are that bright to start with....

Meanwhile, on the more sociable front, Alcohol can act like blood thinner (Anthony J. Brown, MD, Oct 24, 2005, Reuters)

A few drinks of alcohol per week impairs the ability of platelets -- elements in the blood involved in clotting -- to turn on and clump together to form a clot, new research indicates. These findings support previous research and may be the reason why moderate alcohol use has been linked to a decreased risk of heart attack.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2005 5:18 PM

Strange then that most smokers say that tobacco helps them to think.

Posted by: Brandon at October 24, 2005 5:29 PM

Why would that be strange?

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2005 5:34 PM

This study on nicotine's effects would seem to be the outlier. Every other study I've seen shows tobacco improves performance on memory and cognition tests.

and this one shows no signicant difference:

A study that looks exclusively at a small number of alcoholics who also smoke is hardly definitive.

Posted by: ted welter at October 24, 2005 5:56 PM


It's the one not sponsored by a tobacco company.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2005 6:00 PM

Tobacco does help you think. As even that article notes: "research shows that improved mental functioning is one of the immediate effects of nicotine exposure. Chronic smoking, however, is known to have the opposite effect."

Just as alcohol in moderation is good, so too is smoking.

Posted by: carter at October 24, 2005 6:12 PM


Algernon didn't stay smart.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2005 6:16 PM

Nicotine is a central nervous system stimulant. If it wasn't giving you something, it wouldn't be addictive. I smoked as an math undergrad, and felt it helped with writing proofs. It's like caffeine without the jitters. However, it started making me feel ill, so I quit.

Posted by: Mike Beversluis at October 24, 2005 6:26 PM

Even if tobacco and nicotine can be shown to improve cognitive function, it's clear that smoking it is the WORST way to administer it.

That's not a big factor if only a few doses a day are taken, but how many people smoke just five cigarettes or three pipefuls a day ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 25, 2005 1:10 AM

Recently read that nicotine has much the same effect on the brain as Ritalin. A fair proportion of addicted smokers need their fix in order to concentrate. So it's not like caffeine without the jitters, but it does explain why so many people take their cup of java and their smoke at the same time.

Makes one wonder if prescribing Ritalin, which is generally not addictive, except perhaps to some teachers and parents, might help some smokers quit.

Posted by: M. Bulger at October 25, 2005 9:42 AM

Doesn't Ritalin have a paradoxical effect on children?

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 9:54 AM

In terms of cell biology, they accomplish the same thing, albeit by different mechanisms: they increase cellular dopamine levels in the brain. Studies have shown that, at least in the short term, nicotine helps concentration, which is exactly what Ritalin does. The effect in both cases is due to the increase in dopamine.

Posted by: M. Bulger at October 25, 2005 10:06 AM

Leonard Lowe didn't stay smart either.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 10:14 AM

Mmmm, blood thinner.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 25, 2005 6:24 PM