Do cigarettes help smokers cope with stress?

Jul 25, 2007

Many smokers excuse their habit by claiming that smoking relieves their feelings of stress. In fact, the stress they feel may just be one of the short-term symptoms of withdrawal, if they haven't smoked for a while.

This means that smoking may only reduce anxiety levels back to the level they would have been, had the person never smoked at all, and that smoking may not help relieve real anxiety.

To investigate the effects of smoking on stress, Dr Marcus Munafo and research colleagues at the University of Bristol, will be inducing short periods of subjective stress and anxiety in smokers. The study participants will be healthy cigarette smokers who smoke their first cigarette of the day within 60 minutes of waking up.

Dr Munafo has been given a prestigious Young Investigator Award by NARSAD, the Mental Health Research Association in the United States, to carry out this research.

The inhalation of air containing a higher concentration of carbon dioxide than normal has been shown to lead to short-term increases in subjective stress and anxiety. This is because breathing air enriched with carbon dioxide activates a region of the brain, called the HPA axis, involved in the body’s stress response.

Dr Munafo and his colleagues have developed the inhalation of CO2 as a novel method to test the response of smokers when smoking and when abstaining from smoking. This project may lead to therapies to help relieve the stress and depression caused both by smoking and smoking withdrawal, and perhaps aid in smoking cessation.

Dr Munafo said: “The CO2 inhalation method has proved to be a very reliable way of modelling stress and anxiety in a laboratory. This funding represents an exciting opportunity to look at the role that cigarette smoking plays in the response to stress”.

Constance E. Lieber, president emeritus of NARSAD, said; “The young scientists whom NARSAD chooses to support represent the very best in their respective areas of expertise and have been judged by our Scientific Council as having developed innovative and promising research programmes”.

NARSAD created the Young Investigator Award to help the most promising scientists who are now entering research to generate pilot data necessary for obtaining larger grants.

Source: University of Bristol

Explore further: Goat to be cloned to treat rare genetic disorder

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Polymer's hunt for nicotine

Aug 04, 2011

Newly synthesized polymer, fitted with molecular pincers of carefully tailored structure, effectively captures nicotine molecules and its analogues. The polymer can be used for fabrication of sensitive and selective chemical ...

'Do Life' urges Americans to turn things around

Jun 28, 2011

Can a blog by an overweight, depressed American introvert who reinvented himself as an Ironman and public speaker start a grassroots campaign that leads to lasting lifestyle changes in a country known for excess?

FDA adds heart warning to Pfizer anti-smoking pill

Jun 16, 2011

(AP) -- Federal health regulators are warning doctors and patients that Pfizer's anti-smoking drug Chantix may slightly increase the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Recommended for you

Firm targets 3D printing synthetic tissues, organs

43 minutes ago

(Medical Xpress)—A University of Oxford spin-out, OxSyBio, will develop 3D printing techniques to produce tissue-like synthetic materials for wound healing and drug delivery. In the longer term the company ...

Gate for bacterial toxins found

15 hours ago

Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories and Dr. Panagiotis Papatheodorou from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Freiburg have discovered the receptor responsible ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Firm targets 3D printing synthetic tissues, organs

(Medical Xpress)—A University of Oxford spin-out, OxSyBio, will develop 3D printing techniques to produce tissue-like synthetic materials for wound healing and drug delivery. In the longer term the company ...

Survival hope for melanoma patients thanks to new vaccine

(Medical Xpress)—University of Adelaide researchers have discovered that a new trial vaccine offers the most promising treatment to date for melanoma that has spread, with increased patient survival rates and improved ability ...

Naps help infants learn

Sleep is essential in helping young children apply what they learn, according to new research by Rebecca Gómez, associate professor in the UA Department of Psychology. In this Q&A, she talks about her new ...

Robotics goes micro-scale

(Phys.org) —The development of light-driven 'micro-robots' that can autonomously investigate and manipulate the nano-scale environment in a microscope comes a step closer, thanks to new research from the ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...