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Scientists say smokers who suffer stroke in the insular cortex of brain could quit habit

New reports published in the journals Addiction and Addictive Behaviors have revealed that active smokers who suffer stroke in the insular cortex part of their brains are more likely to quit smoking without much problems than others who suffered the same incident in other parts of their brains. These set of people are also likely to suffer lesser withdrawal symptoms than others of their kinds.

Although the rate of smoking has remained largely flat within the last decade, health authorities still maintain it contributes to at least one of five deaths in the US, and increases the risks of developing cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and cancer among others.

The problem that most smokers have with quitting is because of the addictive properties of nicotine which has taken over their system, making quitting almost impossible. Products with nicotine have a very high relapse rate, and success at quitting is only 30% after six months.

Researchers from the University of Rochester revealed the most effective way to treat nicotine addiction is to target the part of the brain affected by it, instead of interfering with dopamine functions to block their pathway. But then there are other treatment options like nicotine replacement therapies such as gums, patches, and other things that reduce craving for tobacco.

According to the recent study, the two main indicators of smoking cessation is measuring the severity of nicotine cravings during hospitalization from stroke, and the chances of patients returning to smoking after discharge from hospital for smoke treatment.

Meanwhile, 156 participants were involved in this study. They were all active smokers who happened to be stroke patients and then admitted to three different hospitals in Rochester, New York. Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scan to identify the part of the brain affected by nicotine addiction; 38 of the patients suffered strokes in their insular cortex and 118 patients suffered stroke in other parts of their brains.

Three months after the tests, patients self-reported back to the researchers and it was discovered that about 70% that suffered stroke in their insular cortex quit smoking , while only 37% of those that suffered it in other parts of their brain stopped smoking.

“It is clear that something is going on in this part of the brain that is influencing addiction,” one of the study authors said.

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