Smoking is bad for men's brains

2012-02-06 22:27

Washington - Men who smoke experience greater mental declines over time than men who never smoked, but the same link does not appear among women, said a British study published in the United States on Monday.

The research suggested that the effects of long-term cigarette smoking show up terms of memory loss, inability to connect past experience with actions in the present, and a drop in overall cognition skills.

The study in the Archives of General Psychiatry followed more than 5 000 men and 2 100 women in the British civil service. Research subjects entered the study at an average age of 56 and were followed for up to 25 years.

Researchers at the University College London checked their smoking status six times over that span and ran a series of cognitive tests.

They found that smoking was linked to more rapid declines in mental ability across all cognitive tests among men who smoked when compared to non-smoking men.

"Our results show that the association between smoking and cognition, particularly at older ages, is likely to be underestimated owing to higher risk of death and drop-out among smokers," said the study, led by Severine Sabia of University College London.

Men who quit smoking within 10 years of entering the study were still at risk of greater cognitive decline, but long-term ex-smokers did not show the same deterioration levels.

"This study underscores that smoking is bad for your brain," said Marc Gordon, chief of neurology at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York, who was not involved in the study.

"Mid-life smoking is a modifiable risk factor with an effect size roughly equivalent to 10 years of ageing on the rate of cognitive decline," he added.

The findings are increasingly relevant to the world's aging population, the study authors said, with some 36 million dementia cases across the globe, a figure that is projected to double every 20 years.

Just why women did not show the same link was unclear, though researchers suggested the smaller sample size and the higher volume of cigarettes smoked by men in comparison to women could be contributing factors.

  • John - 2012-02-07 00:00

    Gee.... and I wonder how many millions of dollars were spent to arrive at a conclusion which has been accepted by medical science for years.....

  • Kilroy - 2012-02-07 06:38

    which head what brain ? Too much water will also kill you

  • Lyndatjie - 2012-02-07 06:41

    Its a no-brainer... You have to be pretty braindead in any case to smoke with all the warnings and dangers clearly pointed out to you by every media imaginable... But has this study taken other factors into consideration? Like the accompanied drink that gets consumed rather liberally with some smokers?

      ian.d.samson - 2012-02-07 10:13

      One has to be totally brain dead to drive a motor vehicle - they are more hazardous to one's health than cigarette smoke. There are more murders in South Africa than those killed in traffic accidents, and those statistics are way above those who die as a result of cigarette smoking. Come on, people, get real here. Non-smokers and EX-smokers are the WORST when it comes to understanding and compassion for those who do smoke, either because they enjoy it or they're addicted to it.

  • Yar - 2012-02-07 06:56

    Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray.

  • Gallant LeVogue - 2012-02-07 07:11

    Just as I thought, it can't be weed:-D

  • ian.d.samson - 2012-02-07 08:18

    However, it has been scientifically proven that Gay Men's Brains are wired similar to Straight Women's Brains so the study falls over here. They did not take this aspect into consideration.

  • Bra Tk Rasethaba - 2012-02-07 09:37

    If u got no brain don't blame smoking,

  • thedobrev - 2012-02-07 10:37

    "Einstein was a smoker" sure... Hey, person who wrote this article, before it gets too bad for my brain, how about some qualitative data. What does "bad for your brain"...."cognitive decline" mean hmm? Does it take me 0.25 seconds longer to pass go or what?

  • Thinus - 2012-02-07 14:15

    Is it not possible that the subjects' decline in mental ability were due to a lifetime in civil service? ;o)

      Doc - 2012-02-07 15:51

      Lol, wonder what the same tests would show amongst South Africa's civil servants, probably that they had no cognitive skills to begin with.

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