A new study involving over twenty-one thousand people from California tracked over the course of twenty-three years results in more bad news to smokers. This time it’s about Alzheimer’s disease. It seems middle-aged people more than double their risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia if they are heavy smokers.
The link has never been made because other more evident health problems relating to smoking such as stroke have always been the focus of research. More importantly, smokers often die before the effects on the brain are evident and a link to Alzheimer’s can be made.
When the study was initiated, the participants were between fifty and sixty years old. In the twenty-three years they were followed-up on, 25% were diagnosed with dementia (of which 21% was Alzheimer’s disease).
Smokers of more than two packs of cigarettes a day showed a risk factor for dementia of 2.14 times higher than non-smokers, 2.57 times higher for Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia as well.
Research scientist and the study’s principal investigator Rachel Whitmer said “This study shows that the brain is not immune to the long-term consequences of heavy smoking”.
“We know smoking compromises the vascular system by affecting blood pressure and elevates blood clotting factors, and we know vascular health plays a role in risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” she added in a release.
So, should a heavy smoker be lucky enough to escape cancer and cardiovascular disease in middle age, they will most likely lose their memory and develop Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia. Heavy smokers, maybe it’s time to cut down.