Scientists discover disturbing new ‘side effect’ of smoking that damages the brain

Smoking cigarettes every day decreases the size of your brain, a new study has found.

Daily puffer fish noggins were typically about 0.4 cubic inches smaller than those of those who had never started.

Cigarette smoking leads to brain shrinkage, according to a new study


Cigarette smoking leads to brain shrinkage, according to a new studyPhoto credit: Getty

Scientists analyzed more than 28,000 brain scans from the UK Biobank – a collection of genetic and health data – and self-reported smoking habits.

Respondents took part in surveys twice – once between 2006 and 2010 and again between 2012 and 2013.

During the second window, participants also underwent MRI.

Researchers found that respondents who smoked this daily had a 0.4 cubic inch smaller brain volume compared to people who had never smoked.

That difference included a 0.3 cubic inch reduction in gray matter, which plays an important role in memory and emotion, and a 0.1 cubic inch reduction in white matter, which facilitates information transmission.

But the more times a person had ignited in their lifetime, the more pronounced the shrinkage of their brain.

For each additional year that a participant smoked an entire pack per day, their gray matter volume in the brain decreased by an average of 0.01 cubic inches.

However, it was good news for climbers.

Further analysis showed that those who eliminated the habit reversed the decline.

Each year of no smoking was associated with an additional 0.005 cubic inch increase in gray matter volume.

This became less important the longer they were gone.

The report was shared on medRxiv and has not yet been peer reviewed.

dr Dajiang Liu, who studies smoking risk genetics at Penn State College of Medicine and was not involved in the study, said live science: “This is a very important study.”

“The work is being done rigorously and the outcome is important from a public health perspective.”

As we age, brain shrinkage occurs over time—or brain atrophy.

Symptoms include disorientation, memory loss, blurred vision, muscle weakness, and loss of coordination.

It has been linked to several neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s.

Top tips to quit smoking for good

Quitting smoking has numerous benefits, but it can be difficult.

If you’ve decided to quit smoking, try these things so you can quit for good.

  1. List your reasons for quitting.
  2. Tell people you’re quitting.
  3. If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking, remember what worked.
  4. Use smoking cessation aids.
  5. Make a plan if you’re tempted to smoke.
  6. List your smoking triggers and how to avoid them.
  7. Keep cravings at bay by keeping yourself busy.
  8. Exercise the urge.
  9. Join the Facebook group for support and advice.

Source: NHS

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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