New study suggests smoking may impact cognitive function

While smoking has long been known to be associated with a wide variety of health problems—including cancers and heart disease—a recent study suggests it’s the root of one more: cognitive decline. Although memory problems occur later in life for assorted reasons, there’s a link between those who smoke combustible cigarettes, putting them at an increased risk by midlife. Continue reading this blog to learn more about the study and how smoking affects the brain’s ability to remember. 

The study

Although the benefits of quitting smoking are endless, a December 2022 study out of Ohio State University suggests that the sooner you quit, the better it will be for your cognitive health. 

What were the results?

The relationship between smoking and cognitive decline was analyzed using a self-reported questionnaire. Of the 136,018 participants—which included a mixture of current smokers, recent former smokers, and ex-smokers of many years over the age of 45—approximately 11% of them reported a subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

The prevalence of SCD among smokers was 1.9 times that of non-smokers in the study. For those who had quit smoking less than 10 years ago, the prevalence was 1.5 times more than non-smokers. Moreover, those who had quit over a decade ago had an SDC prevalence that was slightly above the non-smoking subjects.

Senior author Jeffrey Wing explains that the most significant group where the benefits of quitting smoking help to impact cognitive health were among the 45 to 59-year-olds. This suggests that quitting at this stage in life is paramount.

“Quitting earlier affords people greater benefits,” said Wing.

What can we take away from the study?

Regardless of how you look at the results, it’s easy to see that the benefits of quitting smoking continue to stack up. While you reduce the risk of conditions such as respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, you also help to preserve your neurological health and reduce the risk of dementia the sooner you say goodbye to combustible cigarettes. 

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