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Smoking More Than Doubles the Risk for Dementia

Yes, we all know smoking is bad for health. We know that it increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, and many kinds of cancer.

Now, add dementia to the list.

A groundbreaking article published online this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported on the results of a long-term study that followed more than 21,000 people between 1978 and 2008. By the end of the study, a total of 5,367 people had been diagnosed with dementia. (That alone is frightening: about one in four people developed some form of dementia.)

After adjusting for other factors that differ from person to person (such as sex, age, race, hypertension, body mass index, diabetes, alcohol use, and others), the study found that compared with nonsmokers, people who smoked more than 2 packs a day had more than DOUBLE the risk of developing dementia. For those who smoked 1 to 2 packs a day, the risk was 43% higher…and for those who smoked less than 1 pack a day, the risk was 36% higher.

The good news is that people who are “former smokers” have the same risk as never smokers. So stopping smoking is not only good for your lungs and heart, it is especially good for your brain!

It’s rare that a study is able to show such strong correlations between a lifestyle choice and a health effect that can change the entire course of later life. There has to be a slogan in here somewhere:  Douse the Butts, Save Your Brain!  Or, Smoke Your Way to Senility.

Okay, they’re not so catchy. But the study speaks for itself.

Read the abstract here:

http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/archinternmed.2010.393?papetoc

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