Smoking Linked to Mid-Life Memory Loss: Study

Smoking apparently presents an increased risk for memory loss in people at mid-life, a new study released this week found.

The study by Severine Sabia and colleagues of France’s Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale reviewed data from 10,308 London-based civil servants age 35 to 55 who took part in a study between 1985 and 1988.

The researchers said that they found strong links between smoking and cognitive and memory problems later in life.

“First, smoking in middle age is associated with memory deficit and decline in reasoning abilities,” they wrote in a report in the June 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine

“Second, long-term ex-smokers are less likely to have cognitive deficits in memory, vocabulary and verbal fluency.

“Third, giving up smoking in midlife is accompanied by improvement in other health behaviors.

“Fourth, our results … suggest that the association between smoking and cognition, even in late midlife, could be underestimated because of higher risk of death and non-participation in cognitive tests among smokers.”

The authors stressed that “the results are important because individuals with cognitive impairment in midlife may progress to dementia at a faster rate.”

“During the past 20 years, public health messages about smoking have led to changes in smoking behavior,” they wrote.

“Public health messages on smoking should continue to target smokers of all ages.”

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