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Smoking speeds up memory loss

  • Published at 12:11 pm May 21st, 2013
Smoking speeds up memory loss

Cigarette smokers who continue the habit through their middle ages may see their memory suffer as a result, according to new study findings released Wednesday.

UK researchers found that, from their 40s to their 50s, smokers showed a faster decline in their scores on tests of word memory, relative to non-smokers.

Furthermore, people who smoked in their 40s did worse on tests that measured how fast they could pick out certain letters from a page than non-smokers of the same age, the authors wrote in the American Journal of Public Health.

The relationship between smoking and memory loss appeared strongest in people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes each day, and persisted even when the authors controlled for the influence of socioeconomic status, gender and a range of medical conditions.

Just why smoking may speed up age-related memory loss is not yet clear, study author Dr Marcus Richards of University College London told Reuters Health. He said that he and his colleagues suspected that smoking may accelerate memory loss by increasing the risk of high blood pressure, which can damage the brain. However, the relationship between smoking and brain functioning may be slightly more complicated, Richards said.

“Our results for memory still held up after taking blood pressure into account, but smoking could have been causing changes in the brain’s blood supply that we were not able to measure,” he said.

Alternatively, chemicals in cigarette smoke could also damage the brain directly, Richards added.

 

Source: American Journal of Public Health