Although not directly related to vaping, this new study researchers from the University of Bristol shows how difficult it can be to quit smoking when loneliness is at the heart of our lives.
In a recent study by researchers from University of Bristol and published in the journal Addiction, a causal link has been discovered between prolonged experience of loneliness and smoking. Although many studies have shown that there is indeed an association, it has been difficult to distinguish whether loneliness leads to smoking or if it is smoking that leads to loneliness.
Using Mendelian randomization, a new research method that uses genetic data and surveys from hundreds of thousands of people, the team found that loneliness seemed to lead to an increased likelihood of smoking behavior.
« This method has never been applied to this question before and the results are therefore new, but also provisional. We found evidence to suggest that loneliness leads to increased smoking, with people more likely to start smoking and to smoke more cigarettes. It is proven that loneliness increases the probability of starting to smoke, the number of cigarettes smoked per day and decreases the probability of quitting successfully. This reflects the trends observed during the pandemic, in fact, the YouGov Covid-19 tracker suggests that 2,2 million people in the UK are smoking more today than before confinement. The other way around, there is also evidence that going into smoking increases people's loneliness. »
» Our finding that smoking can lead to increased loneliness is tentative, but it remains consistent with other recent studies that have identified smoking as a risk factor for poor mental health. A potential mechanism for this relationship has been found: nicotine in cigarette smoke interferes with neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain "Said the Dr Jorien Treur, lead author of the study.
Deborah Arnott, Executive Director of Action of Smoking & Health (ASH), stated that " if single people are more likely to start smoking and find it harder to quit, they are also more likely to suffer from the harm caused by smoking. This research highlights the need for smokers suffering from loneliness to receive support to quit, to improve not only their health and well-being but also to help reduce their loneliness. »
The team also investigated the relationship between loneliness and alcohol use and abuse and found no clear evidence of a cause and effect relationship.