Two sides to every cigarette

July 12, 2010

A total of 23 percent of the male population and 18.3 percent of the female population are smokers. So what? Well these people are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Premature death caused by smoking also accounts for more than 440,000 annual deaths.

Cigarette smokers are also at higher risk for developing chronic disorders. Those disorders include cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the buildup of fatty tissues on the arteries. The fatty buildups in the arteries, atherosclerosis, is a huge contributor to deaths due to smoking. Many studies also show that smoking is a huge determinant of coronary heart disease, which most times leads to heart attack. (SOURCE: American Heart Association)

BRAIN BASED ADDICTION?: New research suggests the need or desire to smoke can be attributed to a brain based need for nicotine. Wake Forest University is leading the way in nicotine addiction by using the PET machine to scan the body and produce a 3-D image that is more detailed than a MRI to show just how the brain reacts to smoking. The imaging also allows for you to look at any physiological or metabolic processes in the body.

The PET machine allows doctors to collect smokers' brain data and see how nicotine reaches the brain and its full effects. So far, experiments show, that in a smoker's brain, once the nicotine reaches full effect the brain tries to hold onto the "high" as long as possible. But in an occasional smoker's brain, as soon as the high hits the brain, is as fast as it leaves the brain.

Currently, Dr. Pradeep Garg and his colleagues are working with a potential anti-smoking vaccine, developed by a private company, and are attempting to assess effectiveness through the PET machine scans.

For More Information, Contact:

Pradeep Garg
Professor of Radiology
PET Research Center
Wake Forest University Health Sciences

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