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Study Reports Smoking Disrupts Sleep

Update Date: Jan 02, 2014 11:11 AM EST

Smoking causes several health conditions, such as lung cancer, oral cancer and cardiovascular disease. Despite the fact that several studies have repeatedly tied cigarettes to these diseases, new studies continue to look for other potential consequences from smoking. With more information on what smoking can do to the body, anti-smoking advocates hope that more and more people will not pick up or will quit the deadly habit. In a new study, researchers found that smoking disturbs the body's natural circadian clock function in the lungs and brain, which means that smoking disrupts good sleep and could lead to cognitive dysfunction, depression, anxiety and mood disorders.

In this study, researcher Irfan Rahman and colleagues examined the link between tobacco smoke and clock gene expression rhythms in the lungs of mice models. The mice were split into two groups. In one of the groups, the mice had clean air throughout the day. In the other group, the mice were exposed to a different amount of smoke throughout the day. The researchers examined the mice's daily activities before analyzing genetic factors.

In terms of physical activity, the researchers reported that mice in the smoking group were a lot less active during the following day. The researchers discovered that both short- and long-term smoking resulted in a reduction of the molecule called SIRTUIN 1 (SIRT1), which is an anti-aging molecule. When SIRT1 was reduced, the levels of BMAL1, which is a clock protein present in the lungs and brain was affected in mice models. A similar change occurred in smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

"This study has found a common pathway whereby cigarette smoke impacts both pulmonary and neurophysiological function. Further, the results suggest the possible therapeutic value of targeting this pathway with compounds that could improve both lung and brain functions in smokers," said Rahman, Ph.D., from the Department of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y. "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.

The study was published in the FASEB Journal.

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