Under the Hood

Study Finds Link Between Cigarettes And Schizophrenia

Smoking cigarettes is known for increasing the risk of cancer and causing lung damage, and other complications in the body. But researchers recently found evidence that it also negatively affects mental health.

A new study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, shows that smoking could increase the risk of developing depression and schizophrenia. Researchers analyzed genetic data from 462,690 people. 

"Individuals with mental illness are often overlooked in our efforts to reduce smoking prevalence, leading to health inequalities," Robyn Wootton, lead study author from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "Our work shows that we should be making every effort to prevent smoking initiation and encourage smoking cessation because of the consequences to mental health as well as physical health."

Another surprising finding of the study is that people already diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia appeared more likely to smoke. However, the researchers noted the participants with schizophrenia had lower risk of cigarette exposure compared to depressed patients. 

Another mental condition linked to smoking is bipolar disorder. With the findings, the researchers called on psychiatric hospitals to be smoke-free zones to avoid worse mental health, CNN reported Wednesday.

Role of Mother and Cigarettes in Mental Health

David Curtis, a retired consultant psychiatrist and honorary professor at University College London and Queen Mary University of London, said smoking may not be directly triggering schizophrenia in people. He said the participants’ exposure to cigarettes while in the womb potentially increased their risk of schizophrenia.

"So what we are likely seeing is that the mothers of people with schizophrenia were at a higher genetic risk of smoking, smoked during pregnancy and thereby increased the risk of schizophrenia developing in their children," Curtis, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement. "And of course they would then also pass on an increased genetic risk of smoking to those children, which is what this study is picking up."

Mental illness could cause premature death. A separate research suggested that people diagnosed with a mental condition is more likely to die 20 years earlier than other people. 

smoking cigarette Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death, which could harm both the lung and the cardiovascular system. Pixabay