A new paper has shown a region of the brain referred to as the insular cortex may hold the key to beating nicotine addiction.
Researchers say that smokers who experienced stoke damage in the insular cortex have a much better chance of quitting nicotine, when compared to smokers who experienced stoke damage in any other region of the brain.
And that’s not all. Test subjects who’ve experienced stoke damage in region of the brain also showed symptoms of withdrawal, when compared to smokers who experienced stoke damage in any other region of the brain, and the symptoms that they did show were a lot milder.
This discovery has given many field experts hope that studying the insular cortex can help better understand nicotine addiction and point them in the direction of new treatments. Amir Abdolahi, clinical research scientist with Philips Research North America and lead author, offered a statement informing that “These findings indicate that the insular cortex may play a central role in addiction”.
Abdolahi also went on to explain that “When this part of the brain is damaged during stroke, smokers are about twice as likely to stop smoking and their craving and withdrawal symptoms are far less severe”.
The scientific community is buzzing with excitement as cigarette smoking is still a major problem in the United States. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that cigarette smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death and disease. It claims the lives of 480.000 Americans each year.
Progress has been made in recent years, as an earlier study revealed that the proportion of smokers went from being 21 in 100 American adults back in 2005 to being 18 in 100 American adults back in 2013. But even so, cigarette smoking still kills one (1) in very five (5) individuals.
Many smokers who felt strongly about leaving the unhealthy habit behind, also admitted that they found it very hard to quit. All health experts can do right now is try to help by giving them prescriptions for medication, nicotine patches or nicotine gum.
Unfortunately many patients are not responsive to these treatments, and of the ones that are responsive, most relapse sooner or later anyway. Overall, the rate of success is about 30 percent (30%) after following the treatment for six (6) months.
There is some previous research that hints at the possibility that the insular cortex might have a word to say in the cognitive processes associated with enabling drug use. But the researcher from the new study could not verify this theory.
To prove that this region of the brain in linked to nicotine addiction, the research team looked at 156 smokers who experienced stoke damage in the insular cortex and assessed the severity of their cravings during hospitalization, as well as whether or not the subjects resumed cigarette smoking after being released.
They compared them to a control group of smokers who experienced stoke damage in any other region of the brain, and concluded that 70 percent (70%) of those with stokes in the insular cortex quit their vice within three (3) months, but no more than 37 percent (37%) 37 percent (37%) in any other region of the brain quit their vice within the same three (3) months.
Image Source: pixabay.com