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Teen Smoking Leads to Bigger Issues Later in Life

teen boy lighting cigarette
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

No mom wants to see her teen smoking. And while much research has been done on the effects of smoking on adults, little has been done to discover its effects on kids. Until now. No surprises, though: The results aren't good.

A new UCLA study examined brain scans of more than 40 kids, ages 16 to 21. Some of the participants smoked, while others did not. The results showed that the kids who had smoked had a thinner right insula, the part of the brain that is associated with decision-making and is "largely responsible for our ‘gut feelings,’" according to The Daily Mail. The insula is also connected to other areas of the brain that are involved with cravings.

There's no consensus on whether the right insula was thinner in those children because of their smoking habits or if having a thinner insula caused them to be more susceptible and likely to take up smoking.

While much is still uncertain about the results, one thing is clear: Kids who take up smoking at an early age experience effects that make it harder for them to quit later in life.

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