Male Smokers Lose Brain Function Faster as They Age

I don’t write a lot about smoking because I always assume that intelligent people don’t smoke, so why hassle you readers about it. Nonetheless, I confess to astonishment at the number of folks I see still puffing away. Also, I am especially sensitive to anything that leads folks into any form of dementia which smoking does.

As if lung cancer weren’t reason enough to avoid smoking, Reuters just published a study in which male smokers suffered a more rapid decline in brain function as they age than their non-smoking counterparts “with their cognitive decline as rapid as someone 10 years older but who shuns tobacco, scientists said.”

In the bad old days doctors shilled for cigarette companies

Reuters reported, “In a large, long-term study, British researchers found that while there seems to be no link between cognitive decline and smoking in women, in men, the habit is linked to swifter decline, with early dementia-like cognitive difficulties showing up as early as the age of 45.

”The research adds to an already large body of evidence about the long-term dangers of smoking — a habit the World Health Organization refers to as ‘one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced….’

“‘While we were aware that smoking is a risk factor for respiratory disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, this study shows it also has a detrimental effect on cognitive aging and this is evident as early as 45 years,’ said Severine Sabia of University College London, who led the study and published it in the Archives of General Psychiatry journal.

“In an interview she said one explanation for the gender difference found in this study might be the larger amount of tobacco smoked by men, or the fact that there was a significantly lower proportion of women than men among those involved in the research.

“Sabia’s team looked for possible links between smoking history and cognitive decline in the transition from midlife to old age using data from 5,099 men and 2,137 women who are involved in a large research project called the Whitehall II study, which is based on employees of the British Civil Service.

“The average age of those taking part was 56 when they had their first cognitive assessment.

”The study used six assessments of smoking status over 25 years and three cognitive assessments over 10 years, and found that smokers showed a cognitive decline as fast as non-smokers 10 years older than them.

”‘A 50 year old male smoker shows a similar cognitive decline as a 60 year old male never smoker,’ Sabia explained.

“She also found that men who quit smoking in the 10 years before the first cognitive testing point were still at risk of greater cognitive decline, especially in executive function — which covers various complex cognitive processes involved in achieving a particular goal.

“Long-term ex-smokers, however, did not show a faster decline in their brain functions or cognitive abilities.

”Sabia said more research is now needed to find out why there was a difference between men and women in this study, and to look into possible mechanisms that might link declining brain function to smoking.”

For heaven’s sake, don’t smoke. There is nothing attractive or sexy about it. The American Cancer Society says, “Long-term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer. Smoking is a well-known cause of lung cancer, but some of the cancer-causing substances in smoke dissolve into saliva and if swallowed, can cause digestive system cancers like colorectal cancer.

As I have reported here previously, smoking damages every organ in your body. To read chapter and verse check out my Page – How Many Ways Does Smoking Harm You?



Filed under aging, life challenges, men's health

2 responses to “Male Smokers Lose Brain Function Faster as They Age

  1. Where I live, in eastern Connecticut (the poor/working class part of a wealthy state), a survey by the local hospital found in a survey that an estimated 40 percent of residents smoke. Forty percent!! That is twice the U.S. national average of 20 percent. But we also have the other health-destroying behaviors in greater numbers here, too–especially in terms of poor nutrition and lack of exercise. We have the high incidence of obesity and type-2 diabetes to go along with it. I am always telling people–as they hack and complain about multiple bouts of broncitis: “Stop smoking! It’s about the single worst thing you can do to yourself.” Do they listen? You can guess the answer, and it has two letters.


    • John –

      Thanks for your comment. I find it immensely frustrating to see people still smoking at all. It’s like they don’t believe the horrible lung cancer statistics. And, that’s not all they are letting themselves in for. One of our earlier items noted than smoking damages every organ in the body.

      Very sad that people choose to do it.



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