Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are toxins that can affect the developing fetal brain, or early infant brain. Chronic stress and neglect (lack of stimulation necessary for normal brain development) are toxins, as well. So is a loss of primary relationships, or breaks in caregiving. These are the precursors of the growing epidemic of violence. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 14-15. NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

Conventional wisdom for years has expressed concern about the effect of tobacco/smokeless tobacco on brain function. When used over a long period, tobacco and related chemicals such as tar and nicotine have been found to increase one’s risk for blood clots, which may lead to aneurysms and strokes. Not good for the brain! There is every reason to quit. “Within 10 years of quitting your lung cancer death rate becomes similar to that of someone who never smoked; precancerous cells are replaced with normal cells; your risk of stroke is lowered, possibly to that of a nonuser; your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas all go down.” (Downs, Martin. Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco. NYT, Jan 2009. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/smoking-and-smokeless-tobacco/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier)

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