CogniFit's Science blog: Male Smokers May Want To Think Twice Before Losing Brain Functions

Male Smokers May Want To Think Twice Before Losing Brain Functions

Smoking is bad and that's about it! There really is not much else to say as all signs point to negativity when it comes to smoking as it can cause cancer, lead to heart disease and many other diseases. But new findings may have male smokers thinking a little more about their decision as the rate of brain functions dissipating is far greater.

Scientists have learned that men who smoke suffer a far quicker decline in brain functions as they age compared to non-smoking counterparts. Research suggests that a male smoker’s cognitive decline becomes that of someone 10 years older who shuns tobacco.

British researchers conducted a large, long-term study that found while there are no links between cognitive decline in smoking in women, men face a much quicker decline. In fact, men can see early dementia-like cognitive difficulties as early as the age of 45 just by smoking.

As mentioned, there is no secret that smoking brings on a plethora of long-term dangers. It is perhaps the biggest public health threat worldwide that everyone knows about, but cannot steer clear of. It causes lung cancer, which is often fatal, and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, which are the world’s number one killers.

The dangers of smoking have been very open to the public and doctors are all too familiar with them as well. But this new study reveals just another reason why men in particular should steer clear of that little “cancer stick.”

So why men and not women? The leader of the study explains one reason might be the larger amount of tobacco smoked by men. It also could be the fact that there were a significantly lower proportion of women than men that were involved in the research. And if that is the case, women should be just as concerned with brain functions fading quickly.

In the study, the team looked for possible links between smoking history and cognitive decline from midlife to old age. There are 5,099 men tested and 2,137 women who were involved in the project that was called the Whitehall II study. The average age of those studied was 56 when the first cognitive assessment was taken.

To get the best results possible, the study used six assessments of smoking status over 25 years and three cognitive assessments over 10 years. What was found was that smokers showed a cognitive decline as fast as non-smokers 10 years older than them. It was also found that men who quit smoking in the 10 years before the first cognitive testing point were still at risk of a greater cognitive decline with brain functions fading rapidly.