Middle-Aged Smokers Face Higher Risk for Dementia

Middle-aged smokers are far more likely to report having memory loss and confusion than nonsmokers, according to researchers at Ohio State University.

What to know:

  • Using data on smoking from the national 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System allowed a simple assessment of potential neurologic changes that could be easily done routinely, and at younger ages than we typically start to see cognitive declines that rise to the level of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.

  • A comparison of subjective cognitive decline (SCD) between current smokers, recent former smokers, and those who had quit years earlier found that middle-aged smokers are far more likely to report having memory loss and confusion than nonsmokers.

  • The prevalence of SCD among smokers was almost twice that of nonsmokers while those who quit smoking more than a decade before the survey had a cognitive decline prevalence just slightly above the nonsmoking group.

  • The most significant link to smoking cessation’s neurologic influence was in the 45-59 age group, suggesting that even quitting at that stage of life may have a benefit for cognitive health.

  • Quitting smoking is good not just for respiratory and cardiovascular reasons, but to help preserve neurologic health — and the earlier one quits smoking, the greater the overall health benefits and the lower the likelihood of cognitive decline.

This is a summary of the article, “Relation Between Smoking Status and Subjective Cognitive Decline in Middle Age and Older Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Data,” published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease on December 21, 2022. The full article can be found on j-alz.com .

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