Heavy smoking increases risk of developing Alzheimer's

27/10/2010

Stethoscope on a book

A US medical study has suggested that heavy smokers increase their chances of contracting Alzheimer’s in later life. Middle-aged people that smoke 40 cigarettes a day are twice as likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s later in life.

The medical study was extensive and looked at the health records of 21,000 people. It’s one of the biggest studies ever to explore the link between heavy smoking and Alzheimer’s.

People involved in the study that smoked less than half a packet of cigarettes a day didn’t appear to increase their risk of catching Alzheimer’s, which suggests only the heaviest smokers would be at risk. Also, those that had quit smoking by the time they were middle-aged were as likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s later in life as people that had never smoked.

The link between heavy smoking and Alzheimer’s will hopefully encourage more people to stop smoking in order to lead a healthier lifestyle. Dr Simon Ridley from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust said: "This study will surely add to an ever growing list of good reasons to quit." Smoking can lead to other serious health issues such as lung cancer or cardiovascular diasease.

Around 750,000 suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the UK, which costs the NHS £20 billion a year. And the number of Alzheimer’s and dementia cases seems to be growing, especially as the population is living longer and dementia affects the older generation. The Dementia Action Alliance, Age UK and many other organisations hope that more money will be spent on dementia research.