In these adults, 22–70 years of age, older smokers showed the most volume loss. Subcortical white matter (WM), thalamus, cerebellar cortex, and corpus callosum were most affected. Higher cigarette pack-years related to smaller volumes in several subcortical regions. Magnetic resonance imaging studies of cigarette smoking-related effects on human brain structure have primarily employed voxel-based morphometry, and the most consistently reported finding was smaller volumes or lower density in anterior frontal regions and the insula. Much less is known about the effects of smoking on subcortical regions. We compared smokers and non-smokers on regional subcortical volumes, and predicted that smokers demonstrate greater age-related volume loss across subcortical regions than non-smokers. Non-smokers (n = 43) and smokers (n = 40), 22–70 years of age, completed a 4 T MRI study. Bilateral total subcortical lobar white matter (WM) and subcortical nuclei volumes were quantitated via FreeSurfer. In smokers, associations between smoking severity measures and subcortical volumes were examined. Smokers demonstrated greater age-related volume loss than non-smokers in the bilateral subcortical lobar WM, thalamus, and cerebellar cortex, as well as in the corpus callosum and subdivisions. In smokers, higher pack-years were associated with smaller volumes of the bilateral amygdala, nucleus accumbens, total corpus callosum and subcortical WM.
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Passage of BBW may have a substantial impact on the utilization of certain medications. In 2009, the FDA required a black box warning (BBW) on bupropion and varenicline, the two commonly prescribed smoking cessation agents due to reports of adverse neuropsychiatric events. We investigated if there was a decline in use of bupropion and varenicline after the BBW by comparing the percent using these medications before and after BBW. We conducted a retrospective observational study using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 2007 to 2014. The study sample consisted of adult smokers, who were advised by their physicians to quit smoking. We divided the time period into “pre-warning”, “post-warning: immediate”, and “post-warning: late.” Unadjusted analysis using chi-square tests and adjusted analyses using logistic regressions were conducted to evaluate the change in bupropion and varenicline use before and after the BBW. Secondary analyses using piecewise regression were also conducted. On an average, 49.04% of smokers were advised by their physicians to quit smoking. We observed a statistically significant decline in varenicline use from 22.1% in year 2007 to 9.23% in 2014 (p value < 0.001). In the logistic (Adjusted Odds Ratio = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.22–0.58) and piecewise regressions (Odds Ratio = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.41–0.99) smokers who were advised to quit smoking by their physicians were less likely to use varenicline in the immediate post-BBW period as compared to pre-BBW period. While the use of varenicline continued to be significantly low in the late post-BBW period (AOR = 0.45, 95% CI = 0.31–0.64) as compared to the pre-BBW period, the trend in use as seen in piecewise regression remained stable (OR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.75–1.06).
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