According to the findings of new research, cigarette smoking may increase a person’s risk of developing dementia later in life, adding one more reason to kick the smoking habit.
In a report published last week in the medical journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, researchers found that quitting smoking does reduce the dementia risks.
Researchers evaluated data on more than 46,000 men over the age of 60 from the Korean National Health Insurance System –National Health Screening Cohort, a part of the national health screening program from 2002 to 2013.
Questionnaires were administered to the participants to determine smoking status and changes in smoking during that time. Researchers then followed up with the patients for eight years afterward.
Participants were categorized as continual smokers, short term quitters having quit for less than four years, long term quitters having quit for more than four years, and never smokers.
A total of 1,644 people were diagnosed with dementia during the study period.
Researchers concluded that, the less time men spent smoking the less likely they were to have dementia later on in life.
Men who had quit for less than four years had a 13% lower risk of having dementia than continued smokers. Similarly, men who had quit for four years or more had a 14% lower risk of getting dementia. Men who had never smoked had a 19% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to men who continued smoking.
Long-term quitters had a 32% lower chance of vascular dementia compared to continued smokers. Those who had never smoked reduced their risk of vascular dementia by 29%.
Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms such as memory decline and other cognitive reduction. It may include difficulty communicating, hallucinations, mood swings, and anxiety.
Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia in aging people. It is caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain, depriving brain cells of oxygen and nutrients. Researchers warn that the toxins in cigarettes can lead to this type of damage to the blood vessels in the brain, eventually killing the brain cells and leading to vascular dementia.
Simply put, smokers are much more likely to develop dementia, the researchers determined. Quitting smoking helped reduce the risk of developing the degenerative disease, adding another reason to kick the habit.