Study Finds Smokers Have a Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline

Study Finds Smokers Have a Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline

While the fact that smoking negatively affects the heart and especially the lungs is undeniable and well known, new studies have now discovered that it is even more detrimental to our cognitive health!

A new research on this topic comes from the Ohio State University and found that middle aged smokers are much more at a risk of experiencing forgetfulness and memory loss when compared to those who do not smoke.

The good news is that this unfortunate effect is reversible, meaning that when a smoker quits smoking, this risk of cognitive deterioration begins to drop.

The study is the very first to analyze the link between smoking and cognitive decline by using a rather simple self-assessment method.

More precisely, the participants were just asked whether or not they’d noticed an increase in frequency as far as their memory loss or confusion is concerned.

The research hopes to provide new ways to recognize some early signs of cognitive decline.

In a university release, senior study author Jeffrey Wing stated that “The association we noticed was most significant in the 45 to 59 age group, suggesting that quitting at that phase of life may have a benefit for cognitive health.”

The findings have been published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and did not show a similar difference in older participants, which means quitting smoking earlier offers more health benefits.

The data for this study was provided by a Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey from 2019 and conducted in the United States.

The team compared subjective cognitive decline measurements among smokers, recently former smokers and non-smokers who had quit in the past.

Out of the 136,018 participants over the age of 45, around 11 percent reported a subjective cognitive decline.

Moreover, the research showed that the prevalence of subjective cognitive decline was about 1.9 times higher in those who smoked than in those who did not.

On the other hand, in the case of those who had quit over a decade prior to the survey, their subjective cognitive decline was only slightly higher than that of non-smokers.

Lead author of the study, Jenna Rajczyk, went on to say that “These findings could imply that the time since smoking cessation does matter, and may be linked to cognitive outcomes.”

Rajczyk also explained that this straightforward evaluation could be done consistently and at earlier ages than when cognitive deficits usually become noticeable and may progress into dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The list of questions is quite short and accessible to everyone as well and the results depend on one’s personal assessment of whether or not they feel as sharp cognitively as in the past.

That being said, subjective cognitive decline has many possible applications given the fact that many lack access to medical professionals and comprehensive exams.

All in all, the study’s authors stress that recognizing these subjective experiences is crucial but that they do not necessarily mean they are a confirmation someone is experiencing abnormal cognitive decline. 

Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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