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Smoking, but not past alcohol abuse, may impair mental function
Date:3/15/2010

>The findings are based on assessments of 115 men and 169 women with an average age of 43. Overall, 45 percent of men and 37 percent of women met the criteria for lifetime alcohol abuse, and 13 percent and nearly 4 percent, respectively, had a lifetime history of alcohol dependence. One quarter of women and 18 percent of men had a history of tobacco dependence.

Overall, women who reported having ever smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day scored lower than nonsmokers on tests of executive function -- that is, "higher-order" brain functions that include the ability to reason, plan and organize. The scores were, however, all within normal range.

As for why smoking was related to cognitive scores only among women, it's possible that there is a role for estrogen, according to Caspers.

Animal research suggests that nicotine lowers blood estrogen levels and may inhibit the positive effects of the hormone on brain cells. Sixty percent of the women in the current study were between the ages of 40 and 54, when menopause usually occurs. In theory, nicotine may exacerbate any brain-cell effects of fluctuating estrogen levels in women as they age, the researchers speculate.


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Contact: Kristin Caspers, Ph.D.
kristin-caspers@uiowa.edu
319-335-4101
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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