In the last decades, many studies have investigated the effects of smoking on different aspects of health.
In this sense, the most known and studied are the effects of smoking as a risk factor for developing cancer or the increased risk of cardiovascular accidents, which are the main causes of mortality associated with this habit.
Although these are the most common pathologies associated with tobacco, it is difficult to conceive that smoking selectively affects any system or organ of the human body.
In fact, as the BBHI initiative promotes, it is not possible to think of a risk factor for the body that is not also a risk for brain health, considering that the two are not disconnected but intrinsically interconnected.
In this context, several studies have investigated the relationship between smoking and brain health. The results of some of these studies provided conflicting results, even suggesting that smoking may reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
A study associates smoking and risk of dementia
However, an important recent study, conducted in Finland, has revealed a strong association between smoking and the risk of dementia.
In this longitudinal study, the researchers specifically wanted to study the relationship between smoking in middle age and the risk of developing dementia in old age. To do so, they have monitored more than 20,000 people between 50 and 60 years old over a period of more than 20 years. The results of this study indicate that people who smoked a lot had more than twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementias when they aged, compared to non-smokers.
Of the more than 5,000 people diagnosed with dementia, over 1,000 had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and just under 500 were diagnosed with vascular dementia.
One of the possible explanations for this relationship between smoking and Alzheimer’s disease may be that smoking contributes to an increase in oxidative processes, inflammatory processes and stress, which are considered to be strongly related to this pathology.
On the other hand, the relationship between tobacco consumption and the risk of developing vascular dementia may lie in mechanisms similar to those linking tobacco to cardiovascular problems.