Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Smoking dumb, and it makes men even dumber
SURELY you've seen the I Did It Champix commercial on TV. An ex-smoker is high-fived by buddies and adored by his kids, all to the theme from Rocky. It's a nice carrot to encourage smoking cessation, even if it is pushing another drug. Now it's time for the stick. New research shows smoking accelerates brain decline in men as early as age 45. The same effect was not found in women.
Researchers at University College London led by Sverine Sabia crunched the data from long-term studies of current smokers, ex-smokers and never-smokers, ranging in age from 44 to 69. The subjects were white-collar British civil servants, followed over a 25-year period.
They were tested for short-term memory, vocabulary, verbal and mathematical reasoning. In men, smoking was associated with a faster decline over a 10-year period, equivalent to an additional 10 years of aging. However, Sabia writes, "our results show no association between smoking and cognitive decline in women."
Sabia notes, on average, women smoke fewer cigarettes per day than men, and men drink more alcohol. Also, "it is also possible that smoking clusters with other risk factors differently in men and women."
One piece of good news emerging from this study is that men who had quit smoking at least 10 years ago didn't suffer the same cognitive decline, and "no residual adverse effect of smoking on cognitive decline was observable."
In fact, long-term quitters scored slightly higher than men who had never smoked. One possible explanation is that when people stop smoking, they often go on a health kick. Food tastes better, so their diet may improve. They may start exercising and adopt other healthy habits.
-- Postmedia News
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 17, 2012 J2