Chronic smoking can disturb postural stability

Apr 10, 2014, 10:35 IST | IANS

New York: Another statutory warning for smokers. A study on the effects of chronic cigarette smoking on postural stability has found that chronic cigarette use continues to impact the brain regulating postural stability even during abstinence.

Chronic cigarette smoking has a high co-occurrence with alcohol use disorders, and roughly 60 to 90 percent of alcohol dependent (AD) individuals seeking treatment are chronic smokers.


Postural instability is also common among AD individuals, because of damage to the brain systems that maintain postural stability.

“Based on both anecdotal and empirical findings, postural instabilities with eyes open or closed appear to be highly prevalent in treatment-seeking AD individuals,” explained Thomas Paul Schmidt, a research associate from University of California, San Francisco.

“Assessing postural stability over an eight-month period of abstinence from alcohol is not an easy feat considering relapse rates hover around 60 percent,” Schmidt noted.

In addition, we took into account the potentially harmful effects of concurrent cigarette smoking during abstinence from alcohol, he added.

One of the key findings was that non-smoking AD individuals improved significantly on a measure of postural stability over the course of eight months of sobriety.

This suggests that the neural and perceptual mechanisms responsible for postural stability are impacted by smoking, and even after chronic alcohol consumption has ceased.

Brain systems underlying postural stability are known to be particularly sensitive to alcohol's neurotoxic effects.

The current work suggests that these areas may also be exquisitely sensitive to chronic smoking, the study observed in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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