Smoking Increases Risk of Alzheimer's Disease and Vacular Dementia

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Many of smoking's detrimental effects on long-term health have been well know for decades. Research has clearly shown that smoking can lead to lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Now, based on research published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, we know that smoking can also dramatically increase risk for Alzheimer's disease and for vascular dementia.

In a study of more than 21 thousand subjects who were followed for an average of 23 years, Kaiser Permanente tracked smoking habits and incidence of dementia. The findings were clear:

Compared with non-smokers, those who smoked more than two packs of cigarettes a day in midlife had a "dramatic increase" in the incidence of dementia -- more than a 157 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and a 172 percent increased risk of developing vascular dementia, Whitmer's team found.
- Lead Researcher, Rachel A. Whitmer

It should be noted that these heightened risks were demonstrated in middle-aged subjects (50-60 years old) who smoked more than 2 packs per day. Because data were not available across the full age spectrum, we cannot say with certainty if the same risks apply (or do not apply) to older or younger subjects. Those who smoke less than two packs per day did not have the same heightened risks.

While we have long known about the many risks that smoking poses to our physical health, the evidence that it could also impair our cognitive health has been historically, less substantial. This well designed study on a large sample population and a long follow-up period draws a highly valid and important conclusion.

It's another good reason to quit. More importantly, it's another good reason not to start.
A better understanding and more awareness of Alzheimer's related issues can impact personal health decisions and generate significant impact across a population of aging individuals. Please use the share buttons below to spread this educational message as widely as possible.

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