Challenging existing hypotheses that say schizophrenia patients have greater likelihood of smoking because it can relieve the distress brought about by hallucinations, the researchers argued that if there is a higher rate of smoking before schizophrenia develops, then smoking may not be just a form of self-medication. He and his colleagues used data from close to 290,000 respondents, nearly all of which are smokers, to draw their conclusion that people with psychosis tend to smoke because cigarettes had caused their mental illness, apart from other factors such as genetics and environment.
The authors used data from nearly 290,000 people to conclude that those with psychosis are more likely to smoke because their habit – alongside genetic and environmental influences – had caused their problem. It was found that smokers accounted for 57% of people first diagnosed with psychosis.
Professor Sir Robin Murray, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, said: ‘Excess dopamine is the best biological explanation we have for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia. Were this true the researchers would have found smoking rates only increased after an individual had developed psychosis.
But researchers also said longer-term studies are required to investigate the relationship between daily smoking, sporadic smoking, nicotine dependence and the development of psychotic disorders.
Mental illness could be yet another fallout of smoking tobacco, besides cancer and strokes, says research from King’s College London. Now comes new research suggesting that it may up your risk of more than the Big C: it may contribute to the development of mental illness, in particular, psychosis.
McCabe said the new results on smoking suggest “it might even be possible that the real villain is tobacco, not cannabis” – since cannabis users often combine the drug with tobacco.
Schizophrenia, a severe psychiatric disorder that affects around one in 100 people, typically begins in early adulthood.
Jauhar said it was something he has thought about quite some time since he always saw patients who suffered from psychotic illnesses smoking.
However, more research will be needed to establish the connection.
In spite of the fact that the recent smoking study can be of significant use, scientists acknowledged the causality of these findings are hard and complicated to prove.
Prof Michael Owen, the director of the Institute of Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University, said that the chances of developing schizophrenia due to smoking are many.