A study recently published in the journal Nature Neuroscience has said that there could be 104 high-risk genes for schizophrenia. Identifying these could help in better understanding what could predispose you to schizophrenia, a chronic mental illness whose symptoms are often detected late, which leads to delayed treatment and worsening of the symptoms. In schizophrenia, a person experiences disorganized thinking, delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenic symptoms are usually first seen from age 16 to 30 years. Genetic predisposition is a major risk factor for schizophrenia which is why this research can prove extremely useful in the treatment and intervention measures for schizophrenia. If the parents or biological relatives have schizophrenia or related mental conditions, your chances of suffering from schizophrenia also significantly increase. There are some other risk factors for schizophrenia too:
Increased levels of ‘Junk DNA’: A team of researchers from Japan found that a class of retrotransposons named Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements (LINE-1) also called junk DNA, may have something to do in the development of schizophrenia. Their study showed that exposure to environmental risk factors and genetic risk factors for schizophrenia can lead to increased levels of LINE-1 in neurons, which is often observed in patients who are schizophrenic.
No sleep for 24 hours: Going without sleep for 24 hours can lead to symptoms that are observed in schizophrenic patients according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. The researchers said that sleep deprivation can lead to concentration impairment.
Smoking: Scientists have discovered that schizophrenia and tobacco smoking is linked. Smoking can cause significant cognitive impairment which can up your risk of schizophrenia and also worsens your symptoms if you are already suffering from it.
Prenatal infection: Infections like toxoplasmosis or influenza during pregnancy along with psychological stress and family history can all turn out to be major risk factors. These infections can affect immune cells of the central nervous system in the foetal brain that can damage brain development of the child.
Alcohol and drugs: A research found that alcohol, cannabis and other substance abuse can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Substance abuse increased the risk of schizophrenia by 6 times, cannabis increased the risk by 5.2 times, alcohol by 3.4 times, hallucinogenic drugs by 1.9 times, sedatives by 1.7 times, amphetamines by 1.24 times and other substances by 2.8 times. In women who indulged in alcohol abuse before the birth of their child, the risk increases by 5.6 times in their child.