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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 13:16 EDT

Heavy Smokers Double Their Risk For Alzheimer’s Disease

October 26, 2010

(Ivanhoe Newswire) ““ It wasn’t until January 11, 1964 that the Surgeon General approached the podium and issued a warning cautioning the population of the 4,000 detrimental chemicals in tobacco smoke.  With countless evidence of heart disease, cancer and emphysema caused by smoking surfacing throughout the next 50 years, it seems the Surgeon General hasn’t been able to step down from the stage since.  And with a recent study showing that there is a 157 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and a 172 percent increased risk of developing vascular dementia, it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to do so for some time now.

Researchers followed 21,123 ethically diverse men and women from midlife onward for an average of 23 years.  Those who had smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, compared to non-smokers, had more than a 157 percent increased in risk of Alzheimer’s disease and 172 percent increased risk of vascular dementia during the mean follow-up period of 23 years.

“This study shows that the brain is not immune to the long-term consequences of heavy smoking,” which Rachel A. Whitmer, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, was quoted as saying.  “We know smoking compromises the vascular system by affecting blood pressure and elevates blood clotting factors, and we know vascular health plays a role in risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Researchers analyzed data from 21,123 Kaiser Permanente Northern California members who participated in a survey between 1978 and 1985.  Diagnoses of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia made in internal medicine, neurology, and neuropsychology were collected from 1994 to 2008.  The researchers adjusted for age, sex, education, race, marital status, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, body mass index, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and alcohol use.

“While we don’t know for sure, we think the mechanisms between smoking and Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are complex, including possible deleterious effects to brain blood vessels as well as brain cells,” which study co-author Minna Rusanen, MD, of the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital in Finland, was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, October 25, 2010