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Smoking and Dementia

Health2010-4-28By: Libby Znaimer

If you need another reason to stop smoking, here it is. There is now evidence that heavy smoking during middle age can double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia two decades later.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine analyzed data from 21,000 members of a health plan who took part in a survey when they were in their 50s and 60s.

About 25 percent of them were diagnosed with some form of dementia in the more than 20 years of follow up.

The researchers say those who smoked more than two packs a day had a 114 percent increased risk of dementia, and a 157 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And they caution that doesn’t mean that people who smoke less are in the clear.

It is the first time scientists has been able to study the effects of smoking on brain health over the long term. It’s a difficult project because heavy smokers often die from other conditions first. Smoking already causes millions of deaths each year from cancer and heart disease


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