Numerous studies have demonstrated that inhaling tobacco smoke increases the risk on various cancers, heart complications, stroke and other health problems. Now new research adds another hazard, but this time it’s a mental one: smoking may damage memory, learning and reasoning capacities – if you’re older than 50.
Researchers at King’s College, London, asked 8,800 people over the age of 50 to perform cognitive, verbal-fluency and attention tests. They were all tested again after four and then eight years. They also collected data about their health and lifestyle.
They found a “consistent association” between smoking and lower scores in all three tests. In addition, also subjects with high blood pressure or those who were at risk of a stroke performed poorly.
Dr Simon Ridley, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said to BBC News: “Research has repeatedly linked smoking and high blood pressure to a greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and this study adds further weight to that evidence.
“Cognitive decline as we age can develop into dementia, and unravelling the factors that are linked to this decline could be crucial for finding ways to prevent the condition.
Dregan, A., Stewart, R., & Gulliford, M. (2012). Cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive decline in adults aged 50 and over: a population-based cohort study Age and Ageing DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afs166