Cut Open Your Brain to Stop Smoking?!?

Yeah, right. So, you have tried to stop smoking and have been frustrated? No problem! Have a surgeon cut out a small portion of your brain, and BAM! You will forget that you even ever used to smoke! Great solution, huh? (I am being factitious!)

The brain zone that makes us smoke

“Scientists have discovered that some brain-damaged patients can give up smoking effortlessly, which could herald a major breakthrough in treating nicotine cravings. A region deep in the brain called the insula is intimately involved in smoking addiction, and damage to this structure can erase the body’s urge to light up a cigarette. Indeed, the structure, which is the size of a 50p piece, is being billed as possibly the ‘Achilles heel’ of addiction. The study published today in the journal Science was inspired by a patient who had smoked about 40 cigarettes a day before suffering a stroke. He quit immediately afterwards. ‘I forgot the urge to smoke,’ he told the team led by Dr. Antoine Bechara of the University of Southern California, who worked with colleagues at the University of Iowa. ‘This man had smoked since the age of 14 and had his stroke at age 28,’ Dr. Bechara told The Daily Telegraph. ‘He tried so many times before to quit but was never able to. ‘But he smoked his last cigarette on the evening before his stroke and has not lit up another in over 10 years now. His quitting was like a switch being turned off.’ The scientists concluded that insula damage reduced the patients’ actual urge to smoke rather than reducing the pleasurable experience. Prof. Paul Matthews, of the University of Oxford and Imperial College, and vice-president for GlaxoSmith Kline, said: ‘The most remarkable finding in this study is that damage to a particular brain area may block this urge. ‘Now we can ask: could a functional neurosurgeon implant stimulation electrodes to do the same thing? Could there be a surgical ‘cure’ for smoking?'”

OK… I am not the one to ask… but “Could there be a surgical “cure” for smoking?” I say, “You HAVE to be kidding!” (Sadly, they aren’t!)

One comment

  • I gotta admit..that is really interesting…I am not a smoker but my grandfather just passed of smoke related diseases and I think he just gave up on giving up.

    I think that with medical remedies like these, you always ask the questions is it worth the chance? Only those that are in the situation can make the decision but nonetheless it is very interesting…

    Great article.

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