The Dangers of Mixing Cigarettes & Alcohol - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/26/06

The Dangers of Mixing Cigarettes & Alcohol

A new study shows why cigarettes and alcohol shouldn't mix.

Scientists have known that too much alcohol affects the brain, but now, a new report finds chronic cigarette smoking can also cause brain damage. So, when you combine a habit of smoking and alcohol that triggers a double whammy...damaging more gray matter in the brain.

The report published in the journal Alcoholism, suggests smoking should not be ignored during treatment for alcoholism. Researchers say when you examine alcoholics, most are smokers as well. In the past people haven't distinguished if brain changes are due to alcohol or just smoking. The report suggests smoking, as well as excessive alcohol causes brain changes and affects brain function.

In some of the research, MRI technology was used to examine structure of cells in the brain. They found both alcohol and smoking reduce the amount of gray matter in the brain. Alcohol abuse itself also reduces the amount of cells in the white matter in the brain. Researchers say gray matter is important for higher cognitive skills and how the brain processes information.

Researchers say more studies need to be done on the cigarettes and brain damage. This comes from information at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism in Santa Barbara, California and published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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