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Published on: November 26, 2012
by Nicole Rojas for LatinosPost:
A new study by researchers from King’s College in London has revealed that smoking “rots” the brain by damaging memory, learning and reasoning, making people more vulnerable to dementia. According to the BBC, the study, which included 8,800 participants over the age of 50, also found that high blood pressure and being overweight also affected the brain but to a lesser extent.
The study aimed to find the association between cardiovascular risk and cognitive decline in adults 50 years and older. The BBC reported that researchers collected data on the health and lifestyle of their study’s participants and then conducted brain tests. Participants were then tested again after four years and eight years.
Researchers discovered that “elevated cardiovascular risk may be associated with accelerated decline in cognitive functioning in the elderly.” The study’s results revealed that the smoking was consistently linked to lower performance on learning, memory and reasoning. High risk of stroke and high blood pressure were also associated with lower memory scores and overall mental abilities after eight years, the Daily Mail noted.
Dr. Alex Dregan, who was one of the researchers on the study, told the BBC, “Cognitive decline becomes more common with ageing and for an increasing number of people interferes with daily functioning and well-being.”
“We have identified a number of risk factors which could be associated with accelerated cognitive decline, all of which, could be modifiable,” Dregan said. The researcher added, “We need to make people aware of the need to do some lifestyle changes because of the risk of cognitive decline.”
Alzheimer’s Society spokeswoman Jessica Smith told reporters, “We all know smoking, a high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and a high BMI (body mass index is bad for our heart. This research adds to the huge amount of evidence that also suggests they can be bad for our head too.”
“One in three people over 65 will develop dementia but there are things people can do to reduce their risk,” Smith added. “Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and not smoking can make a difference.”
The study was published in the Oxford journal Age and Ageing.
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