Dangers From Smoking Continue to Mount
buttsSmoking is a very expensive habit, both financially and health-wise.  It has been widely recognized as the greatest individual risk for heart disease, stroke, emphysema, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) and lung cancer.  It has also been strongly implicated in early erectile dysfunction (ED) and breast cancer.
Recent studies have linked current smokers with an increased risk of cognitive decline, likely related to the effect smoking has on vascular disease.  Increasing evidence exists suggesting the importance of midlife risk factors for later dementia, and there is a well established link between cognitive decline and later-life dementia.  This link is summarized succinctly in the Archives of neurology, 1999:  “Persons with mild cognitive impairment progress to dementia or alzheimer’s disease as a rate of 10% to 15% per year.  Among these persons, those with a faster rate of cognitive decline have a greater chance of develoing dementia”.  Dementia is not reversible and there is no current treatment that can stop its progression.
In the Doetinchem Cohort Study, the cognitive function of nearly 2000 men and women in the netherlands were evaluated over a five year period.  The association between smoking staus and memory function, speed of cognitive processes, cognitive flexibility and global cognitive function were assessed.  The conclusions, reported in the American Journal of Public Health earlier this year, was “Interventions to prevent or stop people from smoking may postpone cognitive decline in middle-aged persons”.  Specifically, at baseline, “smokers scored lower than never smokers in global cognitive function, speed, and flexibility. At 5-year follow-up, decline among smokers was 1.9 times greater for memory function, 2.4 times greater for cognitive flexibility, and 1.7 times greater for global cognitive function than among never smokers. Among ever smokers, the declines in all cognitive domains were larger with increasing number of pack-years smoked”.

A French research team investigated the association between the tobacco consumption history and the multiple domains of cognition in middle-aged individuals.  This study, “Smoking History and Cognitive function in Middle Age From the Whitehall II Study” appeared in the June 2008 Archives of Internal Medicine.  It examined 10,308 individuals over a 5 year period, “adjusted for the effects o socioeconomic status, health behaviors and a range of health indicators”.  The results demonstrated a strong association between smoking and poor memory with smokers having a 37% higher risk for cognitive decline.  Some good news was noted, long term ex-smokers that stopped prior to the study, demonstrated a 30% lower risk for poor cognition attributed to health behavior improvements.

If you are a smoker and still not convinced, a 2007 meta-analysis of 19 different studies of over 26,000 participants with a mean age of 74 demonstrated that curent smoking increased risk for dementia and cognitive decline by 40%-80% depending upon the measure employed.  Further, a June 2008 study showed that smokers have higher all-cause mortality, equivalent to a non-smoker 10 years older.  Evidence from a 2003 Prosspective cohort study concluded: “The present results show that heavy smoking is associated with cognitive impairment and decline in midlife. Smokers who survive into later life may be at risk of clinically significant cognitive declines”.

Smoking is counterproductive to healthy aging.  Beginning a regular exercise routine, modifying eating habits and learning ways to manage stress can be instrumental in helping you quit smoking permanently.  Adopting healthier lifestyle will improve your current and future quality of life, and reduce your risks for degenerative diseases and premature death.