Heavy Smoking in Midlife

A new study published in Archives of Internal Medicine indicates a relationship between heavy smoking in midlife and increased risk for dementia. This includes both vascular dementia (VaD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Prospective data from a multiethnic population-based cohort of 21,123 members of a health care system who participated in a survey between 1978 and 1985 was analyzed. Of that group, 25% were diagnosed as having dementia during a follow-up period of 23 years. Compared to nonsmokers, those smoking more than two packs a day evinced an elevated risk of dementia.

The authors concluded that heavy smoking in midlife was associated with a greater than 100% increase in the risk of dementia, AD and VaD more than two decades later. Results suggest the brain is vulnerable to long term consequences of heavy smoking.