In addition to causing cancer and heart disease, tobacco smoke disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms and ruins sleep quality, according to a new study in The FASEB Journal.
“This study has found a common pathway whereby cigarette smoke impacts both pulmonary and neurophysiological function,” said Irfan Rahman, a researcher at the University of Rochester in New York. “Further, the results suggest the possible therapeutic value of targeting this pathway with compounds that could improve both lung and brain functions in smokers.”
Previous research has shown that patients with obstructive lung diseases have abnormal circadian rhythms in lung function, the study researchers said. To investigate this phenomenon, the researchers placed mice in smoking chambers designed to model short-term and long-term tobacco inhalation. Another control group of mice was exposed to clean air only. The study team found that the experimental group of mice was significantly less active following exposure to cigarette smoke.
For mice deficient in SIRT1, a protein involved in circadian rhythm, the researchers found that tobacco smoke caused a remarkable drop in activity. This effect was eased in mice that over-expressed this protein or were treated with a chemical activator of the anti-aging protein. The researchers also found that the clock protein BMAL1 was regulated by SIRT1. A decrease in SIRT1 damaged BMAL1, resulting in an interruption in the biological clock in mice and human smokers. However, this disruption was nullified by a small molecule activator of SIRT1.
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“We envisage that our findings will be the basis for future developments in the treatment of those patients who are suffering with tobacco smoke-mediated injuries and diseases,” Rahman said.
“If you only stick to one New Year’s resolution this year, make it quitting smoking,” added Dr. Gerald Weissmann, editor of The FASEB Journal. “Only Santa Claus has a list longer than that of the ailments caused or worsened by smoking. If you like having a good night’s sleep, then that’s just another reason to never smoke.”
In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared the inspirational story of Beatrice for those looking to quit smoking in 2014. Beatrice began smoking regularly when she was 13 and continued to smoke for the next 25 years. In 2010, she was finally able to quit.
“It was hard for me to quit. I tried several times to quit and it is going to be a hard thing to do,” Beatrice said in a web video. “You just have to have a lot of support and try to take yourself out of certain situation that made you smoke. For instance, I used to go out drinking with my friends. I stopped doing that for a couple of months… You really have to break the habit and then you work on the addiction.”
“If you need help, you should get help – I did,” she added. “I think you just have to stick to it and create a plan and a goal. My goal was to tell everybody that I quit smoking so that whenever anybody saw me smoking they’d be like ‘Oh, I thought you quit’ and I’d get hell for that.”