Smoking in Midlife Greatly Increases Risk of Dementia

New research published in the online issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that smoking heavily can cause effects on the the brain decades later.

The researchers followed more than 21,000 people for an average of 23 years. Of those, 5,367 people were diagnosed with some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. After adjusting for a number of other factors, analysis showed that people who smoked more than two packs a day had double the risk of dementia, compared with nonsmokers. That’s right–double. In some cases, it was more than double.

In addition, the researchers found that heavier smoking is associated with a greater dementia risk–the risk of dementia increased with each additional cigarette smoked. These results were found for both men and women, and for all different race groups.

At HensonFuerst, we handle cases of nursing home abuse, and many nursing home residents are there because they have dementia. As the researchers write in the article:

The large detrimental impact that smoking already has on public health has the potential to become even greater as the population worldwide ages and dementia prevalence increases.

Think of it this way: Every smoker has the ability to change the course of his or her life…by quitting. Dementia is not an easy road for the person who has it, or for their loved ones and caregivers. You don’t have to wait until November to plan your own Great American Smokeout—how about March 1, or March 2, or March 3? Or, set a date of your own choosing. Quitting smoking may be the most difficult, but most rewarding thing you ever do.

To read the abstract for this article, click here: Archives of Internal Medicine

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