Smoking Affects The Mind As Well As The Body

By  //  November 28, 2012

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Healthcare News

(VIDEO by IBTimesUK)

According to researchers at King’s College in London, smoking essentially “rots” the brain by impairing its memory, learning, and reasoning functions.  The study investigating links between the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke and the state of the brain was recently published in Age and Aging, an international peer-reviewed journal focused on geriatric medicine and gerontology. 

Not only is smoking bad for your health and those around you, it is also bad for your brain by impairing its memory, learning, and reasoning functions.

Data about the health and lifestyle of a group of 8,800 individuals over the age of 50 was collected over time, and brain tests of mental capabilities, such as making participants learn new words or name as many animals as they could in a minute, were performed. After initial testing, they were all tested again after four and then eight years.

The researchers reported a “consistent association” between smoking and lower test scores.

High blood pressure and being overweight—two conditions often found in smokers—were also linked with diminished mental abilities, but to a lesser extent than smoking. The bottom line is that overall, the risk of myocardial infarction or stroke was “significantly associated with cognitive decline.” Scientists involved said people needed to be aware that lifestyles could damage the mind as well as the body.

This King’s College study corroborates the link between smoking and a high risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s previously reported in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine in a large U.S. study looking at how smoking in mid-life affects dementia risk decades later. That study showed that the risk of Alzheimer’s is more than doubled and the risk of vascular dementia, linked to problems in blood vessels supplying the brain, also rose significantly in people smoking at least two packs of cigarettes a day in their mid-life.

Lifestyle modification and taking control of your personal health is key to not only heart health, but brain health too.

In a comment on the King’s College study, The Alzheimer’s Society said: We all know smoking, a high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and a high BMI [Body Mass Index] is bad for our heart. This research adds to the huge amount of evidence that also suggests they can be bad for our head too. One in three people over 65 will develop dementia but there are things people can do to reduce their risk. Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and not smoking can all make a difference.