A new study has pointed out the adverse effect of Chronic cigarette smoking during the recovery of alcohol-related brain damage.
Alcohol-use disorders (AUDs) can damage the brain, particularly the frontal and parietal cortices, although this damage is at least partially reversible with sustained abstinence from alcohol.
Anderson Mon, senior research fellow in the department of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco, has shown that chronic cigarette smoking is associated with poor recovery of brain blood flow during abstinence from long-term heavy drinking.
Using the longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of brain blood flow, the research team has found that smoking makes it harder for brain blood flow to recover from long-term heavy drinking.
"The brain's frontal lobes are involved in higher-order cognitive function, such as learning, short-term memory, reasoning, planning, problem solving, and emotional control," said Mon.
"The parietal lobes are involved in aspects of attentional regulation and visuospatial processing.
"Chronic and excessive drinking is associated with neurobiological abnormalities in these regions, which contribute to the cognitive dysfunction frequently observed in those with AUDs after detoxification," he added.
Cerebral perfusion is a measure of the amount of blood flow to brain tissue per unit time. A normal, uninterrupted flow of blood through the brain is necessary to supply brain tissue with sufficient essential compounds and oxygen for normal metabolism.
"In general, AUDs are associated with reduced perfusion," said Mon.
"With abstinence from alcohol, brain perfusion abnormalities may recover, but there are several factors that may influence recovery, such as age, diet, exercise, genetic predispositions and - the topic of our research -other substances such as tobacco products."
During the study, the researchers recruited three groups participants, of which 19 were non-smoking alcohol-dependent (ALC) patients, and 22 smoking ALC patients at one and five weeks of abstinence from alcohol. They also involved 28 age-matched non-smoking, light-drinking controls.
The results showed that even though cerebral perfusion among the ALC individuals, as a whole, improved with abstinence from alcohol, those ALC who were chronic smokers demonstrated significantly less perfusion recovery, particularly in the frontal lobes.
"At one week of abstinence, both smoking and non-smoking ALC patients had similar frontal and parietal gray matter perfusion; and both groups had lower perfusion than normal controls," said Mon.
"However, after five weeks of abstinence, frontal and parietal gray matter perfusion of the non-smoking ALC patients recovered to normal control levels, whereas the smoking ALC group essentially showed no recovery," he added.
"These results suggest that patients who want to stop drinking should be offered an option to stop smoking," said Graeme Mason, associate professor of diagnostic radiology and psychiatry at Yale University.
"However, any combined cessation has to be designed carefully," he added. he findings have been published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.