More Evidence for Healthy Living: Any Smoking Poses A Problem
Healthy living is certainly part of the modern boarding school mantra.
Almost every school articulates goals and purposes around a regular schedule, good sleep, sound eating, exercise, and healthy relationships with peers and adults.
Admittedly, we/schools weren’t always as good about this as we could have been.
I’ve been around long enough to remember the days when schools allowed students (with parental permission) to smoke in designated spots on campus. Looking back, most every school switched to non-smoking policy close to twenty years ago. We reached the point at which no one could defend student smoking in the face of the evidence.
Some new research shows this switch to non-smoking campuses might be better than we knew.
University of Alabama Birmingham researchers recently published findings making the case that small doses of nicotine can create brain changes that may last for an individual’s lifetime.
Writing For the Birmingham News, Jeff Hansen describes it this way:
“Researchers now believe that smoking just a few cigarettes can change the brain to create a craving to smoke, trapping most teenagers who start into a 30- to 40-year habit as adults.
One medical researcher has described it as ‘a 40-year sentence for four cigarettes.’ And even those who manage to quit smoking have a long-term susceptibility to relapse.
New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham may advance the understanding of this process. UAB researchers reported this week that a short exposure to nicotine in adolescent white rats changed the behavior of cells in one portion of the rat’s brain.
That lab finding may relate to what clinical researchers now realize happens in adolescent humans.
What in the world is going on in the brain to cause these changes after a short exposure to nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarette smoke?…
…in a paper in The Journal of Neuroscience published Wednesday, Penton, Lester and Michael Quick report that one week’s exposure to nicotine in adolescent white rats changed the behavior of cells in one part of the brain. Specifically the cells were CA1 pyramidal cells in a part of the lower brain called the hippocampus.
One function of the hippocampus — which in a rat is about as long as two grains of rice — seems to involve cravings that are induced by cues, which for an ex-smoker may be alcohol, or a certain social setting.
Those CA1 neural cells were more excitable at four weeks after the nicotine was withdrawn. Surprisingly, that change was still evident four months, six months and nine months after the nicotine was withdrawn. Penton didn’t look any further out than nine months, which is a large portion of a rat’s two-year life span.
In other words, Lester (Dr. Robin Lester) said, instead of the brain returning to the normal state that it was in before the rat got nicotine, that portion of the brain has changed to a different state, which persisted…
Here is Lester’s idea of what may be happening in human smokers.
‘You’ve got brain changes that happen rapidly, to crave drugs,’ Lester said. ‘They put in an almost lifelong predisposition to smoking…”(TBN)
The negative consequences from smoking are not only long-term. They’re almost instant. Another piece of evidence for students who claim to be/cling to the notion of being part-time smokers.