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Smoking raises risk of midlife memory loss, confusion: Study

Written by  Dinkle Popli -- December 22nd 2022 09:13 PM
Smoking raises risk of midlife memory loss, confusion: Study

Smoking raises risk of midlife memory loss, confusion: Study

Columbus, December 22: Middle-aged smokers are significantly more likely than nonsmokers to experience

memory loss and confusion, and those who recently quit are

less likely to experience cognitive decline, according to a new study.

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Ohio State  university

study was the first to examine the relationship between smoking and

cognitive decline using a one-question self-assessment that asked whether memory loss and confusion

were worse or more frequent. The

findings build on previous research that found links between smoking and Alzheimer's disease and other forms of

dementia, and may represent an

opportunity to spot signs

of problems early in life. The study's lead author, Jenna

Rajczyk, is published in

the journal Alzheimer's


The association we saw was most significant in the 45-59 age

group, suggesting that quitting at that stage of life may have a benefit for

cognitive health," Wing said. A similar difference wasn't found in the

oldest group in the study, which could mean that quitting earlier affords

people greater benefits, he said.

Data for the study came from the national 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor

Surveillance System Survey and allowed the research team to compare subjective cognitive decline

(SCD) measures for current smokers, recent former smokers, and those who had

quit years earlier. The analysis included 136,018 people 45 and older, and

about 11% reported SCD.

The prevalence of SCD among smokers in the study was almost 1.9 times that of

nonsmokers. The prevalence among those who had quit less than 10 years ago was

1.5 times that of nonsmokers. Those who quit more than a decade before the

survey had an SCD prevalence just slightly above the nonsmoking group.

"These findings could imply that the time since smoking cessation does

matter, and may be linked to cognitive outcomes," Rajczyk said.

The simplicity of SCD, a relatively new measure, could lend itself to wider

applications, she said.

"This is a simple assessment that could be easily done routinely, and at

younger ages than we typically start to see cognitive declines that rise to the

level of a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease or dementia," Rajczyk said,

adding, "It's not an intensive battery of questions. It's more a personal

reflection of your cognitive status to determine if you're feeling like you're

not as sharp as you once were."

Many people don't have access to more in-depth screenings, or to specialists --

making potential applications for measuring SCD even greater, she said.

Wing said it's important to note that these self-reported experiences don't

amount to a diagnosis, nor do they confirm independently that a person is

experiencing decline out of the normal aging process. But, he said, they could

be a low-cost, simple tool to consider employing more broadly.

Amy Ferketich, a professor of epidemiology at Ohio State, also worked on the


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