Heavy smoking in midlife more than doubles your odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a new study reported. It is the first study to examine the long-term consequences of heavy smoking on Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Heavy smoking in midlife more than doubles your odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a Kaiser Permanente study said Monday.
The study is the first to examine the long-term consequences of heavy smoking on Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, says the study’s principal investigator, Rachel Whitmer, a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland.
Researchers evaluated the records of 21,123 men and women, who, starting in midlife, were followed for an average of 23 years. Of 5,367 study participants diagnosed with dementia later in life, 2,367 were smokers, and 261 were heavy smokers (more than two packs a day). Compared with non-smokers, those who had smoked two packs of cigarettes a day increased their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by more than 157% and had a 172% higher risk of developing vascular dementia — the second-most-common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s. The research is published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Though the study was observational, the authors have theories about what might be going on, Whitmer says. “People who smoke have increased inflammation, and we know inflammation also plays a role in Alzheimer’s,” she says. – USA Today