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Smoking Linked to Increased Dementia Risk for Elderly Men

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posted 12:42 AM EST, Wed February 08, 2012
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Quit now to reduce your odds of dementia later in life. People who quit for at least 10 years prior to late middle age experience no increased risk for tobacco related dementia.

Need some inspiration and motivation for your battle against tobacco? Well you surely know that smoking damages your heart and lungs, but did you know that it also damages your long term cognitive abilities…that is unless you quit in time.

English researchers say that elderly male smokers experience greater cognitive decline than their non smoking peers.

The Study

Researchers at University College London, England examined smoking data and tested cognitive function on over 7000 older members of the British Civil Service.

  • Each subject received a cognitive abilities assessment. Subjects were an average of 56 years old at the time of this assessment.
  • Over the decade following this first assessment, each subject received two further cognitive assessments
  • Each subject provided information on smoking habits over the previous 25 years.

The Results

  • Male smokers experienced quicker cognitive decline than male non smokers
  • Male smokers who continued to smoke during the decade after the first cognitive assessment experienced the quickest rates of decline
  • Men who had quit smoking more than 10 years prior to the first assessment showed no accelerated cognitive decline.
  • Female smokers did not experience a comparable accelerated rate of decline.


The authors say their study adds further evidence to the hypothesis that smoking is linked to dementia in the elderly.

The full research results can be found in Archives of General Psychiatry

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Story Highlights
  • Dementia: Men who smoke into older age experience accelerated cognitive decline
  • Quit in Time: Men who quit for 10 or more years prior to late middle age experience no elevated risk.
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