Along with many other harmful health consequences, smoking tobacco causes chemical changes, oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Excessive alcohol use can have similar effects. Surprisingly, however, very few studies have examined the combined impact of smoking and alcohol on the brain. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Chemical Neuroscience have shown that in rats, the joint use of tobacco and alcohol could increase neural damage in particular brain regions.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, many people who smoke tobacco also drink alcohol excessively, and vice versa. Therefore, studying the combined effects of the two drugs on the central nervous system could yield valuable insights. But most previous studies have examined the consequences of one or the other in isolation. That’s why Alana Hansen and colleagues wanted to find out how drinking and smoking together affect regions of the rat brain involved in drug addiction.
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