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Smoking found to have most deleterious effect on brain health. Simply put, it rots your brain

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 29th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Smoking has never been considered good for health. It carries the risk of lung cancer, as well as a host of other oral cancers, rots the teeth, increases blood pressure and is a definite threat to heart health. Now, a study from the United Kingdom that smoking is even more injurious to brain health - far worse than high blood pressure and weight, it has been found.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the BBC, a new study of more than 8,800 people older than 50 found a correlation between smoking and damage to memory, learning and reasoning in the brain. It's a given that decreased brain function is a natural sign of aging - but this recent study suggests that there is an attendant degradations via smoking.

Data was collected from test subjects older than 50 who were then again tested at four-year and eight-year follow-ups. Researchers attempted to identify a link between the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke and the condition of a person's brain.

"Age and Aging," as it was originally published, also took an in-depth look at the effects of high blood pressure and weight on long-term brain health. Smoking produced the most dramatic results, as it was the only factor that seemed to be linked to global cognitive degradation.

A consistent association was observed between smoking and low global cognitive and specific memory and executive scores in the 4-year and 8-year follow-ups.

One of the biggest conclusions of the tests was that future studies may need to focus more on cumulative risks than individual factors. While Smoking, high blood-pressure and weight had its own effect, the study showed that cumulative brain health is often determined by a number of different criteria. Examining one underlying cause of degradation is insufficient, the study notes.

The research also implies that these factors could lead to more complex problems, such as dementia.

"Cognitive decline as we age can develop into dementia, and unraveling the factors that are linked to this decline could be crucial for finding ways to prevent the condition," Dr. Simon Ridley, from Alzheimer's Research U.K. says.

While the study addresses long-term effects of smoking, the inhalation of cigarette smoke often has some much more obvious negative side-effects. According to the National Institutes of Health, smoking causes about 443,000 deaths each year and is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer in men and 80 percent of lung cancer in women.

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