Study: Smoking may increase risk of suicide

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Interesting story from Epoch Times. According to a Washington University study, smoking may actually contribute to the risk of suicide. And that policies that work to reduce smoking rates such as cigarette taxes and smoking bans might also reduce the number of suicides.

I know that sounds nuts, but there seems to be some basis for this conclusion. First, it’s been well-established that people with diagnosed mental illnesses — bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — smoke at a higher rate than the general population. That’s a given. Now, it may be that nicotine or other drugs in cigarettes are making mental health worse (considering just the pure addictive nature of nicotine, I can believe that easily.).

New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis finds that smoking itself may increase suicide risk and that policies to limit smoking reduce suicide rates.

In a study published online July 16 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, a team led by Richard A. Grucza, PhD, reports that suicide rates declined up to 15 percent, relative to the national average, in states that implemented higher taxes on cigarettes and stricter policies to limit smoking in public places.

“Our analysis showed that each dollar increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 10 percent decrease in suicide risk,” said Grucza, associate professor of psychiatry. “Indoor smoking bans also were associated with risk reductions.”

Furthermore:

Although scientists have known for years that people who smoke have a higher risk for suicide, they had assumed the risk was related to the psychiatric disorders that affect many smokers. These new findings, however, suggest smoking may increase the risk for psychiatric disorders, or make them more severe, which, in turn, can influence suicide risk.

“We really need to look more closely at the effects of smoking and nicotine, not only on physical health but on mental health, too,” Grucza said. “We don’t know exactly how smoking influences suicide risk. It could be that it affects depression or increases addiction to other substances. We don’t know how smoking exerts these effects, but the numbers show it clearly does something.”

Grucza suspects nicotine may be an important influence on suicide risk. Based on the study’s results, he said he is concerned that many new restrictions on public smoking don’t cover newer e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine but release vapor rather than smoke. This mechanism purportedly allows those addicted to nicotine to get a “fix” without affecting the air others breathe.

“Nicotine is a plausible candidate for explaining the link between smoking and suicide risk,” Grucza said. “Like any other addicting drug, people start using nicotine to feel good, but eventually they need it to feel normal. And as with other drugs, that chronic use can contribute to depression or anxiety, and that could help to explain the link to suicide.”

So, it’s possible that nicotine or other chemicals in cigarettes are making bipolar, depression or schizophrenia worse (Remember, it’s become well-established in the last few years that smoking absolutely, positively does make arthritis and diabetes worse).

Interesting and important study. Again, a lot of hidden damage gets done by cigarettes and smoking — not just lung cancer.

 

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