Does Smoking Rot The Brain?
Are smoker's at higher risk for decline in memory, learning and reasoning? According to recent studies, the answer is yes. The journal Age and Ageing looked at cognitive decline in people with Cardiovascular risk.
The results are alarming. Smoking, a long known high risk factor for cardiovascular disease, was shown to have consistency with cognitive decline. Elevated cardiovascular risk may be associated with accelerated decline in cognitive functioning in the elderly.
When I was growing up both my parents smoked. They were a product of the 1950's generation of teenagers when it was "cool" to smoke. Although my dad quit in his adult years, my mother, a 2+ pack a day smoker, eventually succumbed to cancer. My generation of teenage angst was in the 1970s, and smoking was still part of the culture but decreasingly so. At least in my circles.
We have to pay attention to and modify our lifestyles to keep our brains healthy. The study also revealed that being overweight, and/or having high blood pressure can increase cardiovascular disease and hence decline cognition.
The risk of Alzheimer's is more than doubled in people smoking at least two packs of cigarettes a day in their mid-life.
The risk of vascular dementia, linked to problems in blood vessels supplying the brain, also rose significantly.
Another US study, looking at over 21,000 people's records, is published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
The link between smoking and Alzheimer's has already been suggested - but this is one of the biggest studies looking at how smoking in mid-life affects dementia risk decades later.
But there was good news for people who had given up by middle-age - their dementia risk 20 years later was no different to those who had never smoked. Way to go Dad!