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Smoking cigarettes may increase risk of schizophrenia, study shows

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 10 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3773
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Smoking may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, an analysis by a team from King’s College, London has found.1

An association between cigarettes and psychotic symptoms has been reported before, but it has been generally assumed that this arises because people with the symptoms take up smoking as a way to relieve distress, counteract the symptoms, or manage the side effects of drugs used to treat them.

The King’s College team, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, put this link to the test by examining the timing of smoking and the onset of symptoms.

“If smoking is a form of self medication, one would expect newly diagnosed patients to have normal smoking rates which would then rise in response to the symptoms,” James MacCabe, …

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