Nearly 90 percent of people who suffer from schizophrenia smoke cigarettes, and that may not be a coincidence a new study has found.
The groundbreaking new research shows that nicotine speeds up neurons, countering the main cause of schizophrenia, which is impaired brain activity.
"Our study provides compelling biological evidence that a specific genetic variant contributes to risk for schizophrenia, defines the mechanism responsible for the effect and validates that nicotine improves that deficit," study author Jerry Stitzel, from the University of Colorado Boulder explained in Nature. "Basically the nicotine is compensating for a genetically determined impairment. No one has ever shown that before."
This new research has the potential to change how patients cope with the condition. Scientists are hoping it will be possible to use a non-addictive form of the drug to keep people from turning to cigarettes.