As if there were not enough reasons to quit smoking already a new study revealed that smokers may be more likely to develop dementia. A Dutch study which followed 706 people found that of those who participated, those who continued to smoke were 50% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of age related dementia. The findings were published in the Sepbtember 4th issue of the journal Neurology.
One reason other than increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which has links to dementia. Another mechanism also found in dementia or Alzheimer’s patients thought to be responsible is oxidative stress. Smokers experience greater incidences of both potential causes. Oxidative stress happens when there are too many chemical reactions going on in the body, which can be fought through dietary measures through increased intake of foods rich in antioxidants such ad dark chocolate.
The researchers included people in the study who carried the gene for Alzheimer’s Disease. Smokers who carried the gene did not suffer an increased risk due to taking up a nicotine habit. Non-smokers who did not carry the gene were at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in later life.
It may be depressing that quitting smoking will not cause the genes that protect against cancer to repair themselves, so while smokers remain at higher risk for developing tumors that are related to their addiction, at least kicking the habit means that you will be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or age related dementia in your later life. Among the other health benefits of quitting smoking are improved lung function and easier breathing once the lungs and the body clears the long-term effects of tobacco up.
For those wanting help in kicking their nicotine habit, the American Cancer Society offers a guide available online. Of course, if like American author Mark Twain you believe it is easy because you have done it a thousand times, you may want a little extra help. In addition to having a lesser risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia in later life if you do not already carry the gene to do so. And if there’s no other reason to quit, the American Cancer Society says that food tastes better without nicotine. That one may be open to opinion, but not having the smell of cigarette smoke on your clothes is a definite social plus.